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The Independent Critic

Sachin Bhatt, Lillete Dubey, Pooja Kumar, Sarita Joshi
Mehul Shah
Breaking Glass Pictures (DVD)

 "Bollywood Beats" Review 
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Raj (Sachin Bhatt) is a lovable Indian guy who's a bit down on his luck. He's had another unsuccessful dance audition, a bad break-up with his girlfriend and his parents are threatening to kick him out of the house.

What's a dancer in a traditional culture to do?

Dance, of course.

When he meets Jyoti (Lillete Dubey), she encourages him to start a dance class for Indian women. Despite being leery, Raj agrees and after a slow start the class begins to grow with students such as Laxmi (Pooja Kumar), Puja (Mansi Patel) and Vincent (Mehul Shah), a gay man determined to become a dancer despite his father's vehement opposition.

Written and directed by Mehul Shah, Bollywood Beats has been wildly successful on the international indie film fest circuit since its premiere in early 2009. Now, the film has been picked up for a DVD distribution by the folks at Breaking Glass Pictures, purveyors of the finest and coolest in indie cinema.

Filmed on a modest $300,000 budget, Bollywood Beats has the good fortune to star Sachin Bhatt, a Missouri-born actor who had the lead in the first national tour of Bombay Dreams and whose gifts as a dancer and winning screen presence are both undeniable. While he doesn't quite possess the emotional range that one would like to see in a film such as this one, he's a solid screen presence who will hopefully benefit from his extended exposure in this film.

While Bollywood Beats is as much an American-made film as it is an actual Bollywood production, it was largely shot in Texas with post-production in New Delhi, it is actually a terrific primer for American audiences inexperienced with the whole Bollywood scene, a terrific cinematic scene filled with some rather amazing cinematic experiences. Unquestionably Americanized, perhaps to its detriment, Bollywood Beats is most effective when Shah focuses on the film's central themes of chasing one's dreams and how those dreams can often conflict with the surrounding world. The intra-familial conflicts are significantly less convincing here, largely because the film itself is so upbeat and energized that it comes to a screeching halt every time a character stops to deal with family drama.

But, when it comes down to it there's nothing more central to Bollywood Beats than its dancing and music and it's for the dancing and music alone that it's easily worthy of a recommendation. D.P. Roger Lindley also does an excellent job of lensing the film, especially in dance sequences where the camera really brings to life the individual personalities. This becomes particularly vital as the film's "conflict" builds and Raj must make a choice between a professional opportunity and this small community that he has built.

Bollywood Beats will be released on home video on January 31, 2012. For more information, check out the Breaking Glass Pictures website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
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