I went into UnIndian with skepticism. The dodgy history of cricketers turned actors didn’t bode well for Brett Lee – think of Vinod Kambli, Sandeep Patil or Ajay Jadeja. The good news is that Lee isn’t half bad. He is affable and natural in front of the camera – just ignore the clunky dancing.
The problem is that the film – a love story in Sydney between a Indian single mom Meera and an Aussie-English teacher Will – is a tedious collection of clichés. We’ve got the overbearing Indian mother, the inquisitive Indian aunty, the single mom who is juggling career, parenting and matchmaking tactics by her friends and family, the arrogant Indian doctor suitor, the rain-that-leads-to-lovemaking scene and even the last ditch-airport chase. It’s an absolute slog.
Director Anupam Sharma and writer Tushy Sathi are trying to capture the Indian experience in Australia. These folks are, as Meera says, not Australian enough for Australia and not Indian enough for India anymore. But UnIndian doesn’t delve deeper than this dialogue because the plot is pure formula peppered with the usual exotica – a Holi party, a spiritual guru with dreadlocks who dispenses advice like ‘listen to your heart’ and even a Bollywood film. There is a supremely bizarre moment in which Will is watching Kick and he imagines himself and Meera, played by Tannishtha Chatterjee, in the place of Salman and Jacqueline Fernandez in Jumme ki raat hai. It’s very awkward.
Tannishtha is a lovely actress. She gives Meera more depth than the script offers. The young debutant Maya Sathi, who plays Meera’s daughter, is also very good. But the actors can’t rise above the sloppy writing. And I was sad to see the talented Supriya Pathak reduced to a stereotype.
UnIndian has stray moments of warmth and humor but it’s not enough to carry the film. But I am interested in seeing what Mr. Lee does next.
I’m going with two stars.