Bollywood and Vine is a fine example of why I love Independent film. It is very well-acted, filmed, and extremely zany. When the end credits started rolling, I sat back and realized that this film is far too adventurous, satirical, and downright loony for mainstream Hollywood. And I smiled.
According to the press notes (and the film), the story is based on the Hindu legend of “Mohini and Shiva.” In the story, Mohini is a male god who comes to Earth in female form to “entice” Shiva, the male god of abstinence. Heart of the story: Mohini was the world’s very first drag queen. Bollywood and Vine uses this story to concoct a “whodunit” of sorts, with plenty of mistaken identities, off-the-wall situations, and even some black humor.
Bhuvan Bannerji (Schrick) hails from India, home of Bollywood. In his native land, Delilah Leigh (Aubrey) is a screen legend. Here in the States, she is a washed-up “scream queen” from the sixties. When Bhuvan moves to the States and starts his own celebrity homes tour business, he takes the hopeful passengers to Delilah’s home instead of the likes of Julia Roberts.
One day, while Bhuvan is commentating Delilah’s achievements to a bummed out crowd, Delilah spots the young man and immediately admires his persistence. However, embarrassed by her aging, she dresses up her gay son, Devin (Jones), to look like her from the old days. Inspired, Bhuvan writes a comeback script for her entitled “The Great Lady.”
Before he knows it, Bhuvan is in Delilah’s house, but is under the spell of drag queen Devin (posing as Delilah)! The real Delilah is instead now Delia, Delilah’s fictional assistant. Will Bhuvan’s script work out? Will he discover the truth? You still with me? Throw in a nosy neighbor and some outlandish situations and you find out that truly anything can happen on Bollywood and Vine.
Bollywood and Vine is a success on nearly every level, with the exception of a few minor quibbles. The acting is well above average for a smaller project, with Jamey Schrick stealing nearly every scene he is in as Bhuvan. He plays the character with a perfect amount of innocence and inspiration. Bhuvan wants nothing more than to let Delilah know how much he appreciates her work, and Schrick manages to be hilarious and sincere with very little effort.
Skye Aubrey is also excellent as Delilah, the aging screamer. I imagine that many one-note actresses are struggling the same way she is in the film, but the character is very clever and you can tell Aubrey was having a blast with it. The only complaint I really have regarding the performances is that of J.R. Jones as Devin. His acting is solid, but he was a bit over-the-top gay for me, particularly in the film’s final act. It was a distraction at times, but hardly one that detracts from the overall story. Trish Dempsey adds a lot of color as the ever-annoying neighbor, also an aging actress.
My only other quibble regards the script getting a little too preachy about current same sex marriage bans in the film’s final act. Again, it doesn’t detract from the overall experience of the film, but in the big picture it seemed a little unnecessary to open that can of worms near the film’s conclusion.
Directors Donald Farmer and Edward Jordon did an excellent job with the sets and locations. Filming in both Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the film has a beautiful palm tree-laced look to it. Framing is excellent, as is the lighting. Splendid work here.
Edward Jordon’s script is loaded with witty dialogue and well-developed characters. The references to pop culture are hilarious, as are the puns. I was thoroughly entertained.
I can only hope that Bollywood and Vine will find the largest audience possible. I urge anyone in the Fort Lauderdale area to attend the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival on November 11 and check out the screening of this film. You will not be disappointed.
Studio: Stratosphere Entertainment LLC
Length: 85 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated (contains some profanity)
Theatrical Release: November 11, 2004 (Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival)
Directed by: Donald Farmer & Edward Jordon
Written by: Edward Jordon
Cast: Skye Aubrey, Jamey Schrick, J.R. Jones, Trish Dempsey, Angelo Fierro, Russell Constantino