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Basmati Blues is a English-language musical-comedy produced in the vein of Bollywood films. The film is from executive producers Ruedi Gerber (Girl in Flight) and Randy Paul. It stars the Academy Award winning actress Brie Larson in the lead role.
Linda (Brie Larson) is a scientist with a passion for invention who creates a special rice which is genetically modified to be a superior type of rice. Eric (Scott Bakula) also works with her in the lab and he just so happens to be her dad. Eric is proud of her latest advancement in the rice code. The two have a special connection over their shared interest in scientific discovery and creation.
The company's dastardly corporate CEO Gurgon (Donald Sutherland), on the other hand, only sees the rice in terms of its potential to make him boatloads of money. With big dollar signs flashing in his eyes, Gurgon sends the earnest Linda overseas to India to sell rice farmers on upgrading their bags of rice to the new genetically modified rice in corporate contracts which will leave the farmers poor and desolate. Linda doesn't realize this and is there to sell them on the benefits of her superior rice brand.
While staying in India to sell the modified rice, Linda meets the spirited and kindred soul Rajit (Utkarsh Ambudkar). A romance slowly begins to brew between the pair while Linda starts to become invested in the country and the culture of India. While exploring the beautiful land of India, Linda learns more about herself and her dreams while falling in love.
Will Gurgon succeed in getting the farmers to sign up for unfair contracts or will Linda find true love while recognizing the nefarious plans of her CEO boss? Will Linda ultimately save the day and deflate Gurgon's diabolical scheme?
If this storyline sounds kind of preposterous it's because it really is a farfetched storyline. This is just a lighthearted film at its core which doesn't actually take itself too seriously. It's not even remotely trying to be a serious drama. This is a light, fluffy, and comedic musical in the same style of Bollywood films. It consistently features a lot of singing, dancing, and goofy comedic hijinks. If that sounds like something that would be a bad cinematic experience, you won't enjoy it.
For those who enjoy laughing, smiling, and watching fun song and dance numbers, no matter how over-the-top the storyline might become, Basmati Blues is actually a surprisingly great delight. Sure, it's basically just a live-action cartoon on some level. But is it a fun cartoon? Absolutely.
Brie Larson is radiant in the lead role and brings the film a great energy that certainly can't be easily ignored. She's a terrific actress and her song and dance routines contributed a lot to the film's entertaining craft. I couldn't help but smile while watching her charisma leap off of the screen.
Simply put, the music is also a lot of fun. The music score by Steven Argila (The Thing About My Folks) zips along with energy and jazz. The original songs in the film include tracks as written by the rock band Pearl Jam and featuring performances by the cast. They do great performances and the music feels airy and fun. This won't rank as a brilliant musical but certainly the songs are entertaining and effective.
The cinematography by Himman Dhamija (Roy, I, Me aur Main) is consistently beautiful with a rich color scheme. This photography is also aided by the vibrant, colorful costumes designed by Karyn Wagner (The Green Mile, The Notebook) with additional costumes designed by Urmilla Lal Motwani (Ultraviolet, The Fall) and styling done by Kama K. Royz (Experimenter, Marjorie Prime). The cast get to wear some fantastic costumes in this film (most especially Brie Larson).
The screenplay was written by Dan Baron (See Spot Run) and Jeff Dorchen from a story by Dan Baron, Jeff Dorchen, and Danny Thompson. While I can't help but somewhat critique the story because of how outlandish it is at times, I still enjoyed it. This is a fun script with a lot of great moments and an energy which carries on throughout the film. It's not exactly high art but I'm pretty sure that was never even the intent. The aim is to entertain. It does that in spades.
Dan Baron makes his directorial debut with the film. This is one area in which Basmati Blues shines. The film has a theatrical production vibe to it and for this kind of musical production, that's actually not a bad thing. It gives the film an energy and vibrancy that I enjoyed. This is entertainment through-and-through and while the film might not win any awards, it's a joyous experience that left me smiling.
Basmati Blues is presented on Blu-ray with an impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded high definition presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. This is a colorful presentation with a nice array of colors with crisp cinematography. The color on the presentation is a big aspect as to why this is a pleasant image. While it's not a total knockout HD presentation, it's a strong one which will satisfy most viewers.
The audio is presented on Blu-ray with a quality DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo presentation. The 5.1 mix is fun with good surround usage for all musical numbers. Though the film lacks much in the way of bass, the film does sound crisp, which is important for the dialogue reproduction and for the music. It's a pleasant mix which works overall.
Audio Commentary with writer/director Dan Baron, actor Utkarsh ambudkar, co-writer Jeff Dorchen, and producers Monique Caulfield & Jeffrey Soros
Behind the Scenes Featurette (HD, 14 min.) featuring cast and crew, including the director and stars discussing the production of the film
Deleted Scenes (HD, 12 min.) features the following deleted sequences: Execs Singing and Goodbye, Newt Clone, William's Dad, Gurgon Calls Linda, Chai Wallah, Linda Sings, Mannequin, Spice Boat, Local Cops with Yokel, Evilyn and Gurgon Goodbye
Photo Gallery (HD, 9 min.) features a slideshow of behind the scenes production photographs
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 min.)
Basmati Blues is a entertaining musical in the same style of Bollywood films. While the storyline is silly the film is a lot of fun and is greatly improved by the performances, especially from lead Brie Larson. Director Dan Baron has made a commendable directorial debut. I look forward to seeing other films from Baron in the future.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.