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Film review: UnIndian is a charming look at romance from a different perspective

Fresh twists on old stories often come to the rescue, saving UnIndian at just the right moments.
Australian cricketer Brett Lee, right, and Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee in a scene from UnIndian. Krian Pictures / AFP photo
Australian cricketer Brett Lee, right, and Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee in a scene from UnIndian. Krian Pictures / AFP photo

UnIndian

Director: Anupam Sharma

Starring: Brett Lee, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Supriya Pathak

Three and a half stars

Confession time: I went to watch UnIndian simply to gawk at Brett Lee, the extremely likeable Australian former cricketer who, for some inexplicable reason, is very popular among Indians despite the long-standing sporting rivalry between the two countries.

I was pleasantly surprised, therefore to find UnIndian is a fairly enjoyable film. That is not to say it is not packed with the usual romcom tropes – it is – but fresh twists on old stories often come to the rescue, saving the film at just the right moments.

UnIndian is straight out of Gurinder Chadha’s wheelhouse, and will instantly remind you of Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice.

Lee stars as Will Henderson, who teaches English to immigrants in Australia, while Tannishtha Chatterjee is Meera, a single mother with a feisty daughter and little time for romance. They meet at a Holi party and Will instantly falls for Meera.

Because he is not Indian, she initially resists but he wins her over and their love story goes through predictable highs and lows.

Her parents predictably do not approve and try to fix her up with a good Indian doctor, while Will’s best friend gives him a crash course to teach him the Indian way.

These clichés are made palatable by refreshing subplots including the daughter’s confusion about her mom’s divorce, and immigrant integration.

Most importantly, Meera’s character steadfastly defies the good Indian girl stereotype. She’s dusky and does not take any sass from “well-meaning” but snide aunties about it.

Lee, as the smitten suitor is sometimes awkward but mostly endearing. Chatterjee’s Meera is strong and confident, and comfortably takes charge whenever Lee falters. The pair share great chemistry and screen presence, making UnIndian a very easy, entertaining watch.

Supriya Pathak, as Meera’s mother is funny but underutilised.

As corny as it is, watching Brett Lee imitate Salman Khan’s dance moves from Kick will be a treat for cricket and Bollywood fans.

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: August 20, 2016 04:00 AM

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