Monday, April 17, 2006

Flavors


Flavors is an interesting look at a week in the lives of a group of Indian and Indian-American software engineers and their friends and families. Like Crash, the screenplay eventually surprises us by making the lives of these people criss-cross in unexpected ways. But Flavors has a smaller number of characters, which gives them more depth and so, their stories manage to stand on their own too.

The film has a positive vibe that makes it enjoyable. Its intention is to entertain and not complain about the lives of its characters. So though the characters do not always lead happy lives, the movie doesn’t revel in their sadness. And though they may not always do the right things, the film doesn’t point fingers at them. The characters understand each other and make the best of the situation they are in. So though it doesn’t seem so at first glance, Flavors is definitely a feel-good film.

This characteristic also helps make the film quite unpredictable. We’re never really sure what the characters are going to do next and characters that we initially think are introduced for a few laughs end up playing a much bigger role. Even the track we think is the most predictable in the film doesn’t proceed as expected. The unpredictability extends right upto the end as the characters are linked in unexpected ways. Some of the links (one in particular) are sprung on us very unexpectedly and point to a very clever screenplay. Sure its gimmicky and maybe even a little overdone but it was still fun as each new link was uncovered.

The movie has great fun pairing up people who are quite unlike each other. So we get a traditional Indian mother coming to terms with her American daughter-in-law. We get a guy pining for a girl paired with another who thinks every girl who looks at him is in love with him. Even small scenes, like an American manager failing to understand if the engineer is nodding his head to mean “Yes” or “No”, derive their laughs from this difference in culture, thoughts or dreams.

Actors are chosen perfectly. First place though goes to the groom’s parents, Anjan Srivastava and Bharati Achrekar, who make a couple that is both lovable and very much in love (the latter is conveyed in a matter-of-fact manner through a lovely little scene). Bharati, in particular, is phenomenal as she tries to bond with her American bahu. The actor who plays the guy who has realized his love for a classmate rather late and the actress who plays the lonely housewife also make an impression because they slip into their roles so perfectly.

The film makes frequent jumps between the different tracks and this quick editing keeps the film moving. Dialogs are not particularly clever but are pretty snappy and there are some good comebacks. Other techniques like split screens and a constantly shifting timeline also help the film keep our interest.

PS: Thanks Deepa, Ram and Filbert for the recommendation.

23 Comments:

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous banu said...

Balaji
Yes I too loved the movie.The female lead (the girl and the friend phone track)..her name is pooja kumar.Does the name ring a bell.Was she seen in a tamil movie opposite hamsavarthan or someone.i am trying to find that out.any idea?

 
At 11:53 PM, Anonymous deepa said...

Balaji, glad you liked it :) btw, what did u think of the music - i thought it had some good fusion stuff...

ur reviews usually serve as memory tests / puzzles as well while i try to remember scenes u describe or figure what u're pointing to indirectly :) for instance, by the most predictable track - did u mean the k-r one? i thought it was nicely done & witty dialogues also, as you mentioned.

and just have to clarify this also :) the cute scene with the parents that u mentioned - was this the one where they each make sure that the other is well protected from the cold?

feels like i'm answering a quiz :)

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous ram said...

bb, glad u enjoyed it...yeah, i have the same q as deepa...parents-- endha scene solreenge?
yeah, bharathi achrekar was awesome, esp. in that scene at the art gallery...
i also loved karthik and rachna...some of their conversational pieces were delightful...
and, ena bb, not a single word abt the three "guys on the bench?!" thot they were scene-stealers esp the guy who says, "Some f--ked up multi-shulti-soggy-samosa desi trying to maaro 10 bucks by pro__tuting my a_s"

 
At 12:05 AM, Anonymous ram said...

banu, yeah, her name's pooja kumar...she acted in this movie called "kadhal rojave" i think...it had some decent songs by raja...

 
At 12:16 AM, Anonymous deepa said...

the interactions between the mil-dil were well handled - liked the way dil answered some of the mil's questions.

thanks for the review balaji :)

regarding the parents couple itself, they shared a very comfortable chemistry. i remember that long time back there was a serial in doordarshan called 'wagle ki duniya' which was centered around these 2 ppl as a couple & their interactions were very similar to their roles in this movie. so, this movie must have been a breeze for them :)

 
At 12:22 AM, Anonymous deepa said...

ram, the guys on the bench were hilarious :))

esp 'my brilliant idea is to wait for a brilliant idea'. how profound was that!!

later in the credits, they show that these 2 guys start yet another consulting company :)

the head shaking thing brings out the contrast well - was it just me or did the boss also start nodding his head later in the converstaion?

 
At 12:33 AM, Blogger Prasanna said...

hi balaji...ve been a constant reader of your blog but this is the first time i m posting a comment. Your blog is just amazing and it just inspired me to have my own blog. Its been just a few minutes since i created my own blog. Do have a luk and let me know your comments. Trying my level best to have a post daily.And hope i have my luck in finding an interesting subject.

 
At 8:21 AM, Blogger Me too said...

After 'Hyderabad Blues', I became a big fan of those 'Hinglish' movies but then it became too boring with 'American Chai', 'American Desi' kinds! This sounds very interesting. Pl. do review more of these 'Hinglish' movies.

 
At 9:23 AM, Anonymous ram said...

all of the DVD extras are cool too...esp. when anuppam mittal and jicky schnee break into the "jaane kyoon" song!

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Yeah Balaji, thanks for the review. It has been a while I saw the movie and I have to see it again to comment about specific scenes. May be, I am not as big a fan of the movie as Deepa and Ram are, bcos they seem to remember a lot of the minute stuff from the movie :) My most favorite set of characters from the movie were the 3 guys on the bench. This movie is a must-have in your DVD collection if you are a desi.

 
At 10:08 AM, Anonymous deepa said...

i watched it last week to refresh my memory when this came up on bbthots :)

my fav scene from the extras is when reef karim dances...

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

banu, i definitely didn't recognize her. but from what ram says looks like u might be right!

deepa, yep the k-r track was the one i was talking about. the 1st scene where they talked on the fone made it clear how it would go. but the way the track with her suitor was developed was surprising.

and yes, thats the right scene with the parents too. it was so unexpected but natural and conveyed a lot more than artificial lovey-dovey dialogs could have.

ram, not mentioning them was more of an oversight. but yes, they had some of the best lines(the one where they say "who's gonna watch a movie about s/w programmers on the bench" and then face the screen was just brilliant!

sanjesh, will do.

me too, haven't been a big fan of hinglish movies either. didnt see any of those movies u mention. but liked this one quite a bit :)

filbert, yeah i think their lines and attitudes make them interesting and likeable :)

ram/deepa, now i feel bad for not checking out the extras :(

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...

Balaji-

We watched Flavors a while back, it was a good blend of the right actors in a practical scenario. Felt the movie was quite fast paced, have to maybe refresh it once more to delve into the specifics.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

mitr, 'practical' is a good word for that film :)

 
At 10:53 PM, Anonymous deepa said...

thanks for clarifying balaji :)

the suitor thing was unexpected, but served the purpose of moving k-r track to its conclusion nicely.

ditto abt the scene where the bench guys talk abt making a movie & look at us!

for some reason, another scene that seems to stand out to me is the one where sangita keeps adjusting the centrpiece on the coffee table & checks it from all angles. that seemed to bring out the poignancy of her situation well. maybe that seemed the only thing that had some scope for change in her daily activities, and so she put so much thought into it.

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous ram said...

deepa, excellent observation abt the sangeeta character...i also like the moment where she hugs her husband and says, "i think i would like you being jobless" with a kind of kiddish innocence...have u noticed the way she is reading her novel and says, "two minutes okay?" to her hubby...observe the way the husband admires her for a cpl of seconds as she's finishing up her book...i think it was a lovely moment between the cpl...

 
At 11:28 PM, Anonymous deepa said...

hi ram, yes thats a cute scene - he is like indulging/admiring her & even his voice is so soft & gentle in that scene.

yep & her reaction abt his job is completely opposite of what he fears all along - that was a nice touch...

there's another cute scene (maybe during the credits) they both r watching tv & she has tears rolling down which he observes & smiles - his expression here is similar to the one u mentioned in the earlier scene

 
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