Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Miss India America: Smile and Wave Everybody
Prasad is deeply concerned about child poverty, in a way that is only possible
for a beauty pageant contestant. It is part of her preparation for Miss India
Golden State, a contest that includes all the standard pageant fundamentals,
but also incorporates elements of traditional Indian culture. The ambitious type
A valedictorian will have trouble with both, but she is out to prove something
in Ravi Kapoor’s Miss India America (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in select theaters.
valedictory speech basically boiled down to “so long slackers.” Unfortunately,
that definitely included her football player boyfriend Karim, but Prasad has
always prodded him to better himself. Unfortunately, her controlling nature
will finally push Karim away from her and into the ditzy arms of an Indian
American beauty queen. As part of her ill-conceived plan to win him back,
Prasad enters the California pageant, intending to win her way to the national
her single-minded determination, the pre-med Prasad is definitely operating
outside her comfort zone, so she recruits her BFF Seema as her coach and
stylist. Even with her decidedly un-beauty queen-like manner, Prasad figures
her bone structure will be enough to roll over most of the competition, but
Sonia Nielson is a different matter entirely. She has the look and the grace.
Prasad actually finds herself playing the underdog, which is not a familiar role
for her. Of course, there are angles to work, like the aging Bollywood horndog
serving as a judge and the equally randy but slightly less sleazy soap opera
and co-writer (and co-star) Meerha Simhan nicely balance universal teen angst
with specifics of the Indo-American cultural experience. Refreshingly, unlike
many teen melodramas, the adults are mostly smarter and more mature than the
kids. As exhausting as Prasad can be, Kapoor and Simhan clearly celebrate the
success of families like the Prasads rather than apologize for it. Lily the
golden daughter just needs to find a healthier balance.
Sircar is aptly manic and unfiltered as the hard-charging Prasad. Sustaining
that kind of energy is just impressive. Hannah Simone offers some effective
counterpoint as the cool and collected Nielsen, while nicely delivering a sly
third act reversal. As her mother Divya Nielson, Anna George looks like her slightly
older sister, but unfortunately does not get a lot of meaty dialogue to work
with. Anushka Rani’s Nita Nanji is mostly played for broad laughs, but she
pulls off the character’s moments of gravity. However, Simhan really gives the
film heart and soul as Prasad’s misunderstood poet mother.
is a spirited film about growing up and taking
responsibility that has considerably more edge than you might expect. The
ensemble is ridiculously attractive, but they are also poised and professional.
Recommended as low-stress but not brainless cross-cultural comedy, Miss India American opens this Friday
(3/25) at the AMC Mercado (San Jose market), AMC Rio 18 (Beltway area), and AMC
Labels: Anna George, Beauty Pageant Movies