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Born in America, Marigold was the only child in the Lexton family. Her mom died when she was very young. She took an interest in acting and movies, much to the chagrin of her dad, who refused to do anything with her. She started acting in small budget movies as well sequels to popular releases such as Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct amongst others. She landed a part in Kama Sutra 3 and had an eventful journey to Mumbai, India, and from there by taxi to Goa. It is here she found out that the movie has been canceled, and she has no money to return home as she was provided with a one-way ticket. She lands a singing/dancing role in Manoj Sharma's film, meets with Dance Instructor, Prem Rajput, who tells her that his grandma had predicted that he would meet and then get married to a woman named Marigold. She becomes attracted to him, even accompanies him to Jodhpur, Rajasthan, to his family home on the occasion of his sister, Pooja's marriage. It is here she will find out that Prem ... Written by
Salman Khan, Ali Larter: happy meeting of Bollywood and Hollywood
Marigold is by far the best "outsider's" take on Bollywood I have ever seen. (I didn't grow up with Bollywood, but I've seen a few hundred of them now.) I'd say it leaves Gurinder Chadha, Mira Nair, and even Merchant and Ivory (of Bombay Talkie) almost in the dust. Willard Carroll, the director, really loves Bollywood, and he has the self-confidence to allow us to know it - there's humor, but no arch, ironic distancing, no "of course I don't really mean this" stuff. As Jerry Lee Lewis would say, he "gets it," and so he can let us have it too - the joy of a Bollywood movie experience, along with touches that are supplied by a westerner's stepping into the story-teller's role.
It's a story about a caustic, bitchy, beautiful American B movie actress (she's only been in movies with numbers in their titles, like Fatal Attraction 3) who finds herself in a different Bollywood movie from the one she went to India to be in (Kama Sutra 3 has folded its tents while she was en route, apparently because its producers are now in jail). Salman Khan, in real life a Bollywood mega-mega star, is the dancing master of the delightful written-on-the-fly movie she has now been pulled into ("is this before or after I go blind?"), and through the sweetness of his mildly psychically gifted character, she learns more than how to find her inner ecstatic dancing ability.
The strong beginning gives you both Bollywood - a super-energetic troupe of dancers in front of the Taj Mahal (both funny an familiar to the western viewer, as well as providing the high-velocity musical thrill we love in a Hindi movie), and Salman on screen from the outset
no Bollywood 20 minute wait for the hero. He has on an Indian costume
embellished with Kit Carson-style Western movie fringe (all in white).
Ali Larter's actress character is pleasing to the western viewer - she's blonde, which is "traditional" for a "white" person in a Bollywood movie, and visually understandable casting - but she's a robust girl, not the ethereal kind of blondie we're usually presented with, and she's a more or less three-dimensional total bitch, carrying on profane and abusive cell-phone conversations with a boyfriend and agent in the US.
We also have scenes of women who are having problems with each other going out to a bar to deal with them - the capacity for people not getting along to relate and have emotional conversations is traditional in Hindi movies, but we seldom see much of any such thing going on between women (other than the discussion between mother and daughter about the daughter's choice of groom), let alone "strangers" - unrelated people - let alone bar-going. So the spirit is the same, the details are fresh, and I was completely delighted by this.
I only saw it once, at a preview showing, attended by the director, a fine speaker and question-answerer - he and Salman got to be "brother-like" good friends over the making of it, he loves India, he has plans to make a Wizard of Oz movie in India. I can't get too detailed about songs when I've seen them just once, except to say I liked them all. They range from a happy parody of the Bollywood number in the movie-within-the-movie - the ladies' costumes, with Leghorn hats and seashell-cased bodices (it's a beach scene) on flowy dresses - are worth the cost of a ticket alone -- to a lovely reflective many-scened romantic song in a sadder and more serious part of the movie.
Mix of Hindi and English in the music, and it works.
Salman Khan gets a lot of credit from me for openness to unusual projects - this and Jaan-e-Mann - and good judgment about which ones to be in. Carroll said he was full of suggestions and ideas all along the way, and totally fine (i.e. not narcissistic at all) whether Carroll accepted or rejected them - clearly just a pro who loves being involved and collaborating.
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