'Chandni Chowk' gets lukewarm reception from American media

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Jan 17 (IANS) American mainstream media has given a lukewarm reception to "Chandni Chowk to China", the largest-ever release of a Bollywood movie in North America, calling it "a genetic experiment" and a "genre-mashup overkill".

"A veggie-slicing galoot from Delhi goes to China to realise his destiny as a martial arts master - and just from the synopsis, I'm on board with 'Chandni Chowk to China'," says Time magazine reviewer Richard Corliss.

But "the results of this genetic experiment are mixed. 'Chandni Chowk' is probably a decent sampler for Americans who've never seen a full-out Bollywood musical since it goes heavy on the action scenes and light on the big dance numbers", he says.

The film "has the feel of one of many Indian glosses on American films, not of something fresh and foreign. For a really thrilling amalgam of Bollywood and Hong Kong, I'm still waiting", says Corliss.

The New York Times says: "Genre mixing is mother's milk to Hindi films, so it's no surprise that 'Chandni Chowk to China' can so seamlessly add Kung Fu to the usual blend of comedy, dance and melodrama."

"Chandni Chowk to China", the first Bollywood movie to be financed and distributed by Warner Brothers, "starts too frantically but settles down to become an enjoyable, if slight Saturday-matinee, picture", says reviewer Rachel Saltz.

To Washington Times, "Chandni Chowk" seems, "in some ways, like a dish at one of those Indian restaurants - its spiciness has been toned down for the American market".

"Still, it's unlike anything Hollywood puts out. The Bollywood film is unapologetically sentimental and silly, and this melodrama is no exception," it says.

Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times says in "Chandni Chowk to China", "Kung fu pounds it out with Bollywood and round after round of gags, chaos and music".

"Sold as a groundbreaking convergence of Asia's leading cinematic influences - kung fu flicks and Bollywood extravaganzas - it also sees fit to toss in rap video fantasias, commercial parodies, James Bond tropes and Looney Tunes touches for what can only be termed genre-mashup overkill," Abele adds.

Boston Globe's Michael Hardy calls "Chandni Chowk to China" "Bollywood's all-singing, all-dancing, all-Hindi bid to conquer America".

"Backed by Warner Brothers, which is giving it the largest North American release of any Indian film to date, 'Chandni Chowk' could, if successful, forecast a veritable monsoon of Bollywood imports," he says.

"But only if American audiences can accept an action hero who talks to potatoes," Hrady adds.

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