Willard Carroll’s “Marigold” – Movie Review

With the success of past Hollywood hits such as “Bend It Like Beckham” and “Monsoon Wedding,” more film companies are trying to merge Indian and western cultures into a movie. “Marigold” writer Willard Carroll, known for “Playing by Heart” and “The Brave Little Toaster,” makes a considerable attempt at bringing the two cultures together in this campy love story.

Ali Larter (alter ego Niki Sanders from “Heroes”) stars as the self-centered American B-movie actress Marigold Lexton, whose career is fading. Lexton loses her luggage and is trapped in Goa, India, without a return ticket when the movie she was to star in loses its Hollywood financing and shuts down. To try to earn her way back home, she takes a small part in an Indian musical, and starts to fall in love with the choreographer, Prem (Salman Khan).

It was hard to imagine the two characters falling in love, perhaps due to the lack of kissing (public displays of affection are taboo in a Bollywood movie) or the less-than-explosive chemistry between the two characters. In Indian movies, the song lyrics often provide these cultural clues. Having English subtitles for the Hindi lyrics while the musical numbers were performed would have provided context and made us believe that the Lexton and Prem were definitely falling in love.

What should have been an opportunity to connect between the East and the West was instead turned into a befuddling mash-up where the viewer is left wondering what they sang or wishing he or she could reference a good Hindi-to-English dictionary in a dark theatre.

“Marigold” opens in theaters on Friday, Aug. 17.