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Leela (2002)

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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 127 users   Metascore: 53/100
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Leela is a film based on the South Asian-American experience. By providing a dynamic expression of the struggles and celebrations of the expatriate lifestyle, Leela has the potential to be ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vinod Khanna ...
Deepti Naval ...
Amol Mhatre ...
Kris / Krishna
Brendan Hughes ...
Kelly Gunning ...
Garrett Devereux ...
Kyle Erby ...
Partha Dey ...
Sandeep Walia ...
Delna Rastomjee ...
Joya Chatterjee
Gargi Sen ...


Leela is a film based on the South Asian-American experience. By providing a dynamic expression of the struggles and celebrations of the expatriate lifestyle, Leela has the potential to be a crossover film - popular among expatriate South Asians and mainstream English speaking audiences the world over. Leela is a true reflection of how the South Asian-American community is beginning to emerge, blend, and influence the mainstream American culture in its own exquisite ways. Leela is the story of Leela, an aware, liberal woman who struggles with the true meaning of independence. It is also the story of Krishna, born of Indian parents in America but uncomfortable with his hyphenated existence. Leela then is a universal story of two paths that cross each other and pause a moment before moving on. Written by Somnath Sen

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Drama | Romance



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Release Date:

1 November 2002 (India)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

A decent debut effort
31 July 2003 | by (St. Louis, USA) – See all my reviews

I had expected this to be another pretentious drama with stereotypical Indo-American characters and all the identity issues that they face while growing up in the US. But this turned out to be a little less preachy and clichéd, and treated the characters as individuals than caricatures of the culture they represent.

The story revolves around the familiar subject of US born Indians, their immigrant parents and all the values that they feel torn between. Movies like American Desi, Hollywood Bollywood have treaded on this path earlier, albeit on a lighter note, and have never really come across as anything more than entertaining. Mitr and ABCD were perhaps more of a serious study on the subject although poor acting and direction seemed to have doomed Mitr right from the start. ABCD on the other hand was an honest effort with believable characters that came off surprisingly well. This film may have set out on the lines of ABCD with big names thrown in for commercial viability but falls short of being convincing.

The central character is a teenager who comes from a rather unconventional family (unconventional in Indian terms) wherein his parents are both separated and have found new partners to live with and go on with their lives. They appear to be successful in terms of career, their adaptation to the native culture and pretend to be comfortable with their choices and arrangements - all in the name of freedom and individuality. But they somehow still seem to cling on to their roots of tradition and conservative thinking which manifests hideously when they realize that their boy is having an affair with his teacher, played with finesse by Dimple Kapadia. The mother (a good come-back performance by Deepti Naval) desperately tries to break this with a whole deal of emotional drama which goes to show the real insecurity behind the superficial image of modern thinking and liberate views that she portrays! But in the process the characters are made aware of their own shortcomings and insecurities that bring about a sea of change in all of them to eventually help the movie end in a pleasant note!

The actors play their parts with relative ease and do not seem too awkward. Visually the movie is charming with good cinematography and art direction that's done tastefully. The editing is also crisp and the soundtrack with lyrics by Gulzar and playbacks by Jagjit Singh and Shubha Mudgal, amongst others, seems to blend well without really sticking out as a sore thumb. It's finally the narration and the script that limits this effort from really evolving into something meaningful and serious. The film eventually comes across as a half-baked effort that loses purpose as it progresses and a script that never acquires that serious tone or pace to keep you completely engaged.

But all said this still seems a step in the right direction for serious Indian filmmakers. The Indian community is often looked upon as made up of successful individuals in fields of commerce and education but never really presented seriously beyond the boot polish smeared faces of Peter Sellers and other Hollywood actors. These films perhaps would pave the way for an entry into the mainstream foray by Indian filmmakers.

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