Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Brahmin Bulls: Fathers and Architects
Sharma once had grand ambitions of winning a Nobel Prize. Father of the Year,
not so much. He came up empty on both counts. Sharma will try to reconnect with
his grown architect son, but another face from his past will complicate matters
in Mahesh Pailoor’s Brahmin Bulls (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
lives in Boston, but he doesn’t seem like such a bad guy. Nevertheless, Sid
Sharma considers himself more of the heir to Richard Neutra than his father’s
son. Unfortunately, that is not what clients are looking for, thereby causing
him stress in his firm. (Frankly, he probably ought to feel a little heat,
since it looks like he plays tennis all day and gets smashed in hipster bars
every night). Dr. Sharma will use an academic conference as a pretext for
visiting his more-or-less estranged son, but he might have an additional
ulterior motive. It turns out his former mistress, Helen West, will be one of
the conference speakers.
viewers might expect, the reunion starts out massively awkward, but steadily
thaws before getting predictably uncomfortable again. However, Pailoor skips
the clichéd old world vs. new world clash of cultures. Frankly, the senior
Sharma is just as westernized and modernized as his soon-to-be divorced son, if
not more so. In fact, one of the most intriguing aspect of this film is the
treatment of his arranged marriage (to Sid’s late mother, whom he cheated on).
Obviously, it was a difficult marriage and he justly blames himself for the worst
of it, but it is not like it was his idea in the first place. Indeed, it is
is an awful lot of standard issue father-son melodrama in Brahmin (tennis, the game that pulled them apart might just bring
them back together). Still, distinguished screen actor Roshan Seth (Nehru in Gandhi and villain Chattar Lal in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) is
refreshingly dignified and understated as Dr. Sharma. He and Sendhil Ramamurthy
play off each other rather well, as father and son. For comic relief, Michael
Lerner is a lot of fun hamming it up as his formerly hard-partying academic
colleague, while Mary Steenburgen also hits the right note of graceful
resignation as West. On the other hand, Sid’s office and social network seems
to be populated with an awful lot of boring characters.
Be that as it may, you have to give credit to a
film that loudly proclaims it love for Neutra’s houses. Even if Brahmin follows a formulaic narrative,
it is far less manipulative and sentimental than its themes would suggest. There
is nothing particularly special about its technical package, but at least the
admirably restrained Pailoor keeps it moving along, so it goes down relatively
smoothly overall. No cause for fireworks, but those looking for emerging talent
might want to check it out, because Pailoor could well be building towards
bigger and better things with subsequent films. It opens tomorrow (11/14) in
New York at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Michael Lerner, Roshan Seth