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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Saawariya (review)

Here’s a great introduction to those lavish, fantastical Bollywood musicals for the Western newbie: this lush, explosively colorful film rings with reminders of Moulin Rouge! (unsurprisingly, since that movie took inspiration from Bollywood) and takes it form from the Dostoevsky short story “White Nights,” making it just infinitesimally more accessible to non-Indian audiences. In a city that’s more dreamy cartoon than urban reality, a young musician, Ranbir (Ranbir Kapoor) — “an angel of rock and roll,” our narrator, Gulabjee (Rani Mukherjee), informs us with a sigh — falls hard for Sakina (Sonam Kapoor), a sad young woman waiting for her intended to return to her. He woos her anyway, and much singing and dancing ensues, magically staged by director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. It’s all rather more sweetly erotic than you might expect, if you were aware of Bollywood’s reputation for wholesomeness — the bit of naughty almost-nudity is, ahem, cheeky — and a tad darker, too: Gulabjee, the narrator, is a prostitute, and the plight of her and her comrades is not completely elided over. Still and all: this is an enrapturing movie, deliciously gorgeous and impossible not to fall in love with. Bonus features are limited to a making-of featurette and footage from the theatrical premiere.


MPAA: rated PG for thematic elements, brief nudity, some language and incidental smoking

viewed at home on a small screen

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