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It's a Wonderful Afterlife review: Bury this one

It's a Wonderful Afterlife review: Bury this one

Source: General

By: Taran Adarsh

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 07 May 2010

Movie Title

It's a Wonderful Afterlife review: Bury this one

Director

Gurinder Chadha

Star Cast

Shabana Azmi, Goldy Notay, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Sally Hawkins

As reel after reel of Gurinder Chadha's It's a Wonderful Afterlife unspooled, it set me thinking. We [the critics] are extremely harsh on films produced on home turf. But when it comes to names that command tremendous respect in the West, we forgive them - most of the time.

We turn a blind eye, ignoring the deficiencies only because the West holds them in high esteem. We worry that if we ridiculed them, we would come across as complete nincompoops.

I am not going to mince words. With It's a Wonderful Afterlife, celebrated film-maker Gurinder Chadha hits a new low. It actually makes me wonder, was Bend It Like Beckham just a fluke? It's a Wonderful Afterlife is so insipid and hollow that it makes her previous film Bride & Prejudice, considered by many as her weakest film, look like an epic in comparison.

Final word? It's a Wonderful Afterlife had everything going in its favour. But let's not forget that great ingredients don't necessarily make a great dish. This Gurinder Chadha curry is just not palatable!

Mrs Sethi [Shabana Azmi], a widow, can't bear the thought of her daughter being alone and unhappy. When she can no longer stomach the rudeness of families who refuse her daughter, she takes matters into her own hands the only way she knows ? a killer curry. Suddenly, a police hunt begins for a serial murderer.

Mrs Sethi doesn't feel too guilty about murder until the spirits of her victims come back to haunt her. They can?t be reincarnated until their murderer dies. And Mrs Sethi doesn?t mind killing herself - she'll get to see her dead husband again - but how can she go before her daughter is married?

The spirits realise that helping her find a husband for her daughter, before the police catch her, is their only chance for a wonderful afterlife.

On paper, perhaps, the story of It's a Wonderful Afterlife may sound tempting and alluring. At least I found it attention-grabbing when I first heard it, several weeks ago. But sitting through those 1.40 hours is an ordeal.

What were writers Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges thinking when they wrote the screenplay? Barely a few minutes into the film, you realise that Chadha has lost the plot already.

To state that the screenplay is shoddy would be putting it mildly. The only aspect that's amusing and bears Chadha?s unmistakable stamp is the sequences between Shabana and the spirits.

The love story is a total yawn, while the emotional moments are weak and the investigation of the murders is half-baked, too. In fact, an investigating officer is killed in Shabana's backyard, and it is conveniently forgotten, except when Senthil talks about it to Shabana.

Talking of performances, Shabana is dependable, as always. Goldy Notay as Shabana's daughter is efficient. Sendhil Ramamurthy is alright. Jimi Mistry doesn't get ample scope. Sally Hawkins is first-rate. Mark Addy is passable. Sanjeev Bhaskar is wonderful. Shaheen Khan and Zoe Wanamaker [Shabana's next-door-neighbour] are decent.

On the whole, this one's a woeful experience, not wonderful by any standard!

Rating: One star

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