Its A Wonderful Afterlife (2010)-English Movie Review

Its A Wonderful Afterlife is a 2010 English movie directed by Britain based Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha with Shabana Azmi, Goldy Notay, Sendhil Ramamurthy in lead roles.Read the film review at CalcuttaTube.

Film: Its A wonderful Afterlife;

Directir: Gurinder Chadha;

Cast: Shabana Azmi, Goldy Notay, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Jimi Mistry;

Rating: **

In Gurinder Chadha’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, (also known as Hai Marjawan) ghouls rise from the dead and mess around with ladles of curries and gravies in what could easily be termed the most messy climax of desi-gone-ballistic cinema.

By the time the masala curries, chutneys, gravies and other acidic edibles begin to fall across a singing-dancing gathering of NRIs at a big fat Punjabi wedding, the plot is too far gone to be called eccentric or even bizarre.

‘Hai Marjawaan’ is one of those films that should not have happened. It is way too strained in concept and far too outlandish in execution. It doesn’t hold the audiences’ interest beyond the first 10 minutes when we see the benignly murderous Mrs.Sethi (Shabana Azmi) surrounded by ghosts of the people she killed because they wouldn’t let their kin be married to her overweight daughter.

The ghosts in this half-baked attempt to combine spook with satire spend the film’s entire playing time counselling and cajoling the harassed Mrs.Sethi.

Beyond a point, watching the murder victims with the murder weapons permanently in place begins to get tedious and nauseous. For how long can we watch a man with chicken curry bursting out of his intestines? Or a woman with rolling-pin sticking out of her head? The ghosts try to be funny…They are just exasperating.

Make no mistake. This film has great redemptive qualities. But the romantic lead, Sendhil Ramamurthy, is certainly not one of them. After the hype about making the ladies swoon, Sendhil turns out to be pretty much a ramp-walker on camera adding precious little to a badly-written part.

On the other hand, Goldy Notay as the fat girl with no marriage prospects fills up the screen with her affectionate warmth.

It’s Shabana Azmi who finally adds spark to this film. Infusing an intuitive candour to her eccentric larger-than-life character, Shabana lifts almost every sagging scene.

But where are the real warm-hearted characters from Chadha’s ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ in this one?

Ironically, the most real character in this ode to the spirit of maternal over-protectiveness is a British girl names Linda, played with effective self-irony by Sally Hawkins.

Lately returned from India after an enlightening experience, Linda’s passion for Indian spiritualism in many ways defines the Westerner’s quest for nirvana that makes them look ridiculous to the outsider.

In many ways the same holds true of the film. It tries too hard to move away from the stereotypes of the diaspora cinema. The elements from the dead that pursue the harrowed mom are so baroque in their other-worldliness you wonder how they ever thought they could link themselves to the fate of an unmarried Indian girl.

The weird Hindi-dubbed version of ‘It’s A Wonderful Afterlife’ only compounds matters.

Whoever advised the director to dub in Hindi is not her friend.

If you are a die-hard Shabana Azmi fan, you could watch this film for the sheer joy of seeing her take over the show without getting in the way of the scary humbug that sticks out of every nook and corner.

But if you are a fan of Gurinder Chadha’s work, then rent a DVD of her earlier ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ instead.

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