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"Patang": A Live-Action Travel Brochure 

Wednesday, Jul 11 2012

An India tourist trap packed into 90 shruggable minutes, this overpraised import is less Bollywood than Generic Asian Family Drama Lite, when it's not a flat-out sunset-choked infomercial for Ahmedabad and its annual rooftop kite-flying festival. The narrative involves the return of middle-age Jayesh (Mukkund Shukla) and his luscious daughter Priya (Sugandha Garg) from Delhi to the Western homestead, which he eventually admits to wanting to sell out from under his mother and dead brother's family. The clichéd personae—ne'er-do-well nephew, cranky matriarch, etc.—are sketched lightly, and the film's other four-fifths amount to zoom-happy faux-doc footage of the city and its populace, sprinkled with shaky digital sugar and even haphazard CGI washes of fuchsia and chartreuse that cast over the image like sun flares. It's no surprise that first-timer Bhargava is U.S.-based; the whole film is a sighing ode to home where every shot carries the same single idea: You should freaking love India because I do. The kite-flying itself is also less than magical—who can tell what the competition is, exactly, even with the pounding dance music added on?—though occasional moments of arresting street life (mostly nonpro actors) do sprout through the candy-colored tissue paper.

About The Author

Michael Atkinson


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