Western audiences were introduced to the Toronto-based Indian director Deepa Mehta by 1996's Fire, a brave story that caused a storm of controversy in India with its portrayal of two Hindu women caught in a lesbian affair.
Four year's after Fire's similarly thought-provoking follow-up Earth (1998), Mehta has attempted to cement those ties with a film that waters down Bollywood's colourful, melodramatic excesses for audiences not used to such things. The problem is a confusion of purpose. Is Mehta presenting a story about a young man stuck between the twin influences of Bollywood and Hollywood, a parody of Bollywood in the language of the West, or a Bollywood movie for people used to Hollywood fare? It feels like she's not sure herself.
Indian matinee idol Rahul Khanna stars as Rahul Seth, a rather characterless young playboy whose white pop star girlfriend dies in a freak levitating accident. His mother (Chatterjee) sees her chance to marry him off to a nice Indian girl, so Rahul picks up a call girl, Sue (Ray), and pays her to pretend to be one. But it all goes wrong when everybody falls in love with Sue and it emerges she isn't quite what she appears to be.