Comedy crosses cultures


Part of the Hawaii International Film Festival

Screens 6:45 p.m. tomorrow and 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Signature Dole Cannery

The problem with many romantic comedies is that they often overload us with pap-and-sap when we'd just rather have a taste of real sincerity. Thankfully, the new Indian-American film, "Flavors," by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, doesn't make this mistake.

Like its light American comedy counterparts, "Flavors" relies heavily on its ensemble cast to carry the day. Rather than focusing on any specific plot, the filmmakers chose to loosely construct a slice-of-life comedy about first-and-second-generation Indians living in this country. The movie begins and ends at a wedding of a young Indian man and a blond American woman. But in between, we come to know a variety of humorous and recognizable souls.

First among them are the two central characters, Kartik and Rachna, talking to each other by cell phone from opposite coasts. The bachelor Kartik, in New York, is an up-and-coming computer whiz with no personal life to speak of. Rachna, who lives in Los Angeles, is another lonely soul devoted to her frustrating job. Highly educated, she complains to Kartik about the unfairness of his high income compared to her lower salary. Kartik, in turn, complains about how lonely he is, and they flirt with each other as only close friends but not lovers.

There is Sangita, a bored and lonely housewife who speaks no English and has difficulty adjusting to her new life in America. Her impressions of the United States are limited to the people who knock on her door and try to sell her everything from Girl Scout cookies to spiritual salvation.

Then there are the two unemployed "bench boys." These two sit around their apartment all day trying to figure out how to make money without actually doing any work. Added to this mix is the lovesick Nikhil, who has just lost his job and annoys the two with his endless pining for a young woman he hardly knows back in India.

Down the street, the parents of the groom try to find something in common with their future daughter-in-law. The differences between the two cultures are heightened as their son's wedding day approaches.

Issues of marriage, dating, old and new world values, belly button piercings, cell phones, annoying workmates, language problems and more are all resolved in a witty and good-hearted way.

"Flavors" may be light fare, but its taste is sweetly satisfying.

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