When Lalita tears into Darcy for wanting "five-star comfort with a bit of culture thrown in" rather than dealing with the real India, she succinctly articulates the hypocrisy of this movie. Amritsar is depicted as a vibrantly colorful village where everyone bursts into song and is dressed to the nines at all times for the elaborate parties that are constantly taking place. The only indication this isn't a theme park set is that occasionally the electricity flickers out. But this causes nary an inconvenience and instead provides an excuse to picturesquely bathe the stunning protagonist in candlelight. And is it odd and somewhat offensive to anyone else that Rai, a Bollywood superstar, has the most Anglicized looks of the cast? With her shimmery brown hair, green eyes and light complexion, she often looks like a 20-something Kirstie Alley.
That's not to say Rai isn't great in the role; she winningly channels an ideal heroine who's effortlessly gorgeous, intelligent, independent, talented, romantic and honorable. But it all has the trajectory of every Disney animated film of the '90s featuring a feisty femme. Add in some preposterously cartoonish characters like the Herb Tarleck-garbed Yakov Smirnoff soundalike who also vies for Lalita; a marriage-obsessed mother whose uncouth nature is underlined by having her snore boorishly on a settee; and a National Lampoon-caliber snooty in-law-to-be, and it all amounts to a lot of Bolly-hoo. Starring Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Daniel Gillies and Naveen Andrews. Directed by Gurinder Chadha. Written by Paul Mayeda Berges and Gurinder Chadha. Produced by Deepak Nayar and Gurinder Chadha. A Miramax release. Romance/Musical. Rated PG-13 for some sexual references. Running time: 111 min