Marigold is Bollywood For Beginners, offering a crash course in Indian cinematic themes and tropes without ever providing more than a small taste of the genre’s gaudy, vibrant pleasures. Reportedly the first-ever U.S.-Indian co-production, Willard Carroll’s film—shot in English, but featuring a few Hindi songs presented without subtitles—features Heroes’ Ali Larter as the titular Marigold, a spoiled, bitchy American B-movie actress (her résumé dominated by sequels to Basic Instinct, Indecent Proposal, and Fatal Attraction) who travels to India to star in Karma Sutra 3, only to find that production has been permanently halted. However, as a fair-haired flower whom no man can avoid drooling over, it’s only mere moments after her arrival that she finds work on a new project, as well as falls head over heels in love with the movie’s hunky, ridiculously deep-voiced choreographer Prem (Bollywood bad boy Salman Khan), whose expressive range is limited to making dewy eyes (or crazy eyes, depending on the camera angle) and slushy smiles. As a director explains to Marigold, plot and dialogue are far less important than choreographed numbers in a Bollywood film, but how then to explain the almost wholesale absence of musical sequences in Marigold‘s second half, which wastes enormous time and energy dramatizing a troubled Marigold-Prem relationship whose outcome is never the least bit in doubt? It could be that Larter’s mediocre song-and-dance skills are to blame. Yet it’s difficult to see how her slightly stilted moves and limited vocal range are deficiencies more dire than Khan’s sleep-inducingly vapid acting. Plus, amid all the corny humor and rote romantic entanglements, it’s Larter’s effervescent charisma that ultimately makes the otherwise monotonous film endurable—even if (or should I say, especially when) her amazingly in-shape, constantly on display abs threaten to overshadow everything else on screen.
- Hyperion Pictures/Adlabs Films
- 110 min
- Willard Carroll
- Willard Carroll
- Ali Larter, Salman Khan, Nandana Sen, Ian Bohen, Helen Khan, Suchitra Pillai, Rakesh Bedi
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