DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
Ultra HD
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » American Desi
American Desi
Other // PG-13 // November 22, 2002
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Americandesimovie]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted January 3, 2003 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
There isn't really a shelf at Blockbuster for films on the Indian-American undergrad experience but the makers of American Desi would probably like to change that. Taking Kris (Deep Katdare), an "ABCD" (American Born Confused Desi) as its main character, the film throws every conceivable conflict on the screen: Desire to blend, get white chicks, avoid eating vindaloo, listen to American music, etc... There are the Sikh-Muslim roommates (although not much comes of this), the Indian homey, Indian-American inter-relationships, etc... The conflicts are all there for Kris as he plays the identity game that so many undergrads struggle with. Kris is so confused that at one point he thinks that Nina (played by Purva Bedi) is white, a bit of self-deception that is a little tough to swallow, although it makes the point about Kris' perspective pretty clear.

None of it, however, is terribly convincing thanks to immature jokes and some amateurish performances. Not everyone in the cast falters, but some of the key players seem out of their depth. Katdare (who also served as both producer AND executive producer) is confident and smooth but doesn't quite convincingly portray his character's internal struggle. There is a good deal of "acting" evident in his performance, like he's trying too hard to play up his character's Issues instead of letting the guy just be himself. Bedi is attractive, but drones through many of her line readings.

Still, many of the supporting actors are much better, helping keep the film lively. Ronobir Lahiri, Rizwan Manji and Kal Penn play Kris' roommates, each with his own serious set of quirks but each pretty confident in his ethnicity. While they all have their own problems they need to solve (most of which don't come to satisfying conclusions) they're still not played by the cast as walking lesson plans, which is a good thing. Some of the smaller roles are similarly played by strange, funny character actors.

The film has a low budget aura, but nothing that damages it. The cinematography is colorful and lively, the music mostly vibrant and listenable, the issues familiar and realistic. If there's anything that hurts the film it's the script. It doesn't delve as deeply into the culturaly conflict of the lead character as it thinks it does. This might be partially due to the inherent brattiness of the guy. He's got everything going for him; his parents aren't even forcing a false identity on him. If anything, they've given him a lot more freedom to grow than many first generation Americans I know in real life. Right from the start, when he rolls his eyes at his mother's traditional customs but then takes his dad's cash, he sets himself up as a spoiled brat. Granted, the film is about his growing up but he's a bit tough to sympathize with.

There's another weird thing about the film's thematic construction. The final lesson seems to say, at least in part, that Kris betters himself by accepting his culture and heritige, which is fine, but part of the process is shedding his white best friend, the childhood buddy he started the film driving to school with. Why does Kris need to purge himself of whitey? There isn't quite the emphasis on a fair balance in a film that purports to be about diversity and multicultural understanding.

VIDEO:
The anamorphic widescreen video is fine, if unremarkable. The transfer shows a touch of compression artifacting at times but mostly looks good. The colors are bright but the contrast overall is a bit drab.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack is well-mixed and clear. The dialog is understandable and the music, while a bit tinny, usually sounds okay.

EXTRAS:
The disc contains a good deal of extras. A pretty extensive behind-the-scenes feature coupled with an informative cast and crew commentary and a selection of deleted and extended scenes should tell fans of the film everything they need to know. The best extra, however, is a short film called Varsama's Lovers which stars American Desi's Katdare and Bedi. Even though the transfer is pretty terrible, the short reaches for a lyrical tone that American Desi avoids. It's a nice addition to the disc and shares the feature's interest in cultural conflicts of hyphenated "ethnic" Americans.

American Desi is available as a two disc set, although the second disc is not a DVD but rather the film's soundtrack. Some of the music is quite enjoyable but there isn't a sense of consistency. It's all over the place. Still, it's a fun listen.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
American Desi is a silly, predictable movie. When it aims to be sweet and funny it occasionally succeeds. When it shoots for more raunchy American Pie-style humor it falls flat. It delivers a feel-good message with a weird undercurrent of non-assimilation that the filmmakers may not have intended. Still, there is hope that this thread will be explored further. Another film (unsurprisingly titled ABCD) was made after American Desi and a new generation of Indian-American filmmakers may get a chance to tell their own stories as well.

Find the lowest price for 'American Desi'
Popular Reviews
1. Endless Night
2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (4K Ultra HD)
3. Max and the Junkmen
4. Uncut Gems
5. The Point
6. Ten Commandments Digibook
7. Richard Jewell
8. Sonic the Hedgehog (Digital Preview)
9. Boyz N the Hood (4K Ultra HD)
10. The Wizard (Collector's Edition)


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2020 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use