Indian representation in cinema has certainly reached a certain level in recent years by moving beyond the character stereotypes and Bollywood framed imagery that Hollywood has so often embraced. Filmmakers such as Gurinder Chadha and Mira Nair have represented their home communities for over three decades with their various theatrical offerings – the former making films such as play it like Beckham, Marriage and prejudiceand Blinded by the lightwhile the latter uttered cheers such as Mississippi Masala and monsoon wedding – while talents such as Kumail Nanjiani, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and the late Irrfan Khan ensured the authenticity of depictions of their culture through their own work.
It’s a comforting and necessary detail in the industry, and that’s why something like Four samosas is sure to ring true with its audience too. It may not necessarily be the type of film that will appeal to all viewers – he feels More precisely aimed at Indian audiences – but the contagion in which it was created is impossible to deny; it is also of more universal benefit that it incorporates a directing style reminiscent of Wes Anderson.
Written and directed by a predominant television actor Ravi Kapoor, Four samosas takes place in Artesia, also known as Little India, California, centered around a quartet of friends – Vinny (Venk Potula), Published (Shah Sonal), Anjali (Sharmita Bhattacharya) and Zak (Nirvan Patnaik) – and their attempted robbery at a grocery store. The reason they attempt such a venture is revealed to us through a “previously on…” time reversal that defines each of their personalities, dynamics, and connection to the store.
Heartbreak is the main culprit here, along with Vinny, also known as “Big Boy Vin”, an aspiring rapper who’s still not done being dumped a few years prior by Rina (Bichil summer). She only left and got engaged too – for Karan Soni‘s Sanjay – and, in a fit of rage fueled by revenge, Vinny joins forces with his bandmates and prepares to rob Rina’s father (Tony Mirrcandani) targeting his store.
While Anderson’s style of directing is clearly inspirational – as are some of the costume designs (a collective of red tracksuit-wearing individuals known as The Revolutionaries can’t help but feel like a tribute to Anderson’s own The Royal Tenenbaums) – Kapoor’s film is an original creation all the same, taking the tried-and-true heist genre and injecting it with its own unique brand of humor, resulting in a rather endearing and wholesome film.
There are certain Indian subcultures referenced that will clearly reach a niche audience, but however specific, there’s enough genuine laughter and glorious madness to enthrall the uninitiated just the same. A visually kinetic treat, Four samosas will be hilariously personal for some, but pleasantly bonkers for all.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Four samosas is screened as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which is presented both virtually and physically from June 8-19, 2021. For more information, visit the official website Tribeca page.