You are truly gobsmacked after watching Marigold. What, oh what were it makers thinking? How could no one see what a disastrous film this would be at the screenplay stage itself? Nothing, absolutely nothing works in the film, a film that makes you squirm with embarrassment. That this nightmare is directed by Hollywood Director Willard Carroll, who among other films, has directed Playing by Heart (1998) with an ensemble star cast of Sean Connery, Gena Rowlands, Ellen Burstyn, Madeleine Stowe, Angelina Jolie and Dennis Quaid, is all the more shocking.
The problem with this East-meets-West type of films is the perception the Western eye has of ‘Bollywood’. We have to realize that our films are just fascinating to them as ‘those Indian musicals’ and nothing more. It is looked upon as exotic kitsch or as silly froth by kinder souls but nothing more. That seems to be the big problem here too. With the way the Hindi film industry works, you are always walking a very thin line between looking at it seriously or falling into the trap of making it appear to be a total caricature. Marigold falls into the latter category lock, stock and barrel and what’s worse, lacks any insight whatsover. In fact, even a filmmaker like Gurinder Chadha, in spite of her Indian roots and upbringing on Hindi Cinema, got it totally wrong with Bride and Prejudice (2004). And, lets be fair – ‘Bollywood’ takes itself very seriously and we do our kind of films far, far better. In fact our scripts and technical inputs are far superior to this ‘Hollywood Production’ that fails to get anything out of one of our biggest stars and some of our best technicians.
Everything is wrong with the hackneyed, done-to-death script filled with as many cliches that could possibly fit in. The film mixes everything a foreigner feels that India represents – so we have badly done Bollywood, an exotica of Rajashtan royalty, and a climax straight out of 1960s and 70s Indian Cinema. The English Dialogue is corny, stagey, tacky and yes, totally cringe-worthy. A word here about English spoken in our films. One is walking along a mighty thin line here as Indian English sounds highly unnatural and stilted on screen if not controlled properly. Let’s just say here it is not controlled at all.
The film flow, flat and boring with no ups and downs, has no consistent style whatsoever, with bizarre transitions like the red curtain or wine glasses used between scenes cropping up in a rush in the second half, looking more like a desperate attempt to bring some life to the film, which by then has gone beyond redemption in any case. Incidentally what was that scene between Nandana Sen and Ian Cohen? Did they know each other from America or did they not? If not, their getting together is all the more unbelievable. And what was that awful, awful song when Marigold and Barry leave for the airport?
The acting too is by and large woeful. Ali Larter comes across as a B actress and nothing more. Salman Khan looks like he hopes the ground would open up and swallow him up to end his misery. Salman works best when he is being Salman. Here, we see an extremely awkward and uneasy performance. Of course, the weird English accent and mumbly dialogue only makes things worse. Ian Bohen is flat and Nandana Sen, Vijayendra Ghatge, Vikas Bhalla, Simone Singh are all truly bad. Only Suchitra Pillai and to an extent, Rakesh Bedi, at least seem to be enjoying themselves. What’s their secret?!
Technically, there is nothing home to write about. Considering the immense talent involved in all departments, sufficient to say this film would be a nadir in quite a few otherwise impressive resumes.
All in all, as avoidable as the plague.
English, Romance, Drama, Color