Bazodee – Love Bollywood Style!
Baz’oh’dee (Adj. Trinidadian Slang): A state of dizziness or confusion – often used with regards to love or infatuation.Well, Bazodee could almost be a Bollywood slang word, given how the Hindi film industry revolves around love, passion, romance. After all, how many desi movies have love or the Hindi word for heart or love – ‘dil’, ‘pyar’, ‘mohabbat’, ‘ishq’ in the title? Without love, there would be no raison d’ etre for Bollywood films!
‘Bazodee’ an upcoming movie directed by Todd Kessler shows that Bollywood-style romance is big in other parts of the world too and Indian culture is certainly getting some love!
Of course, Hindi cinema has always been a part of the island nation of Trinidad but in ‘Bazodee’ it may just start some novel trends – a pair of refreshing cross-cultural lovers, a pairing last seen in Mira Nair’s ‘Mississippi Masala’ which had the Indian girl (Sarita Chaudhury) falling in love with an African-American (Denzil Washington). In ‘Bazodee’, a romantic Bollywood style musical, you have Trinidad’s music superstar Machel Montano romancing Natalie Perera who is an English actress of Sri-Lankan descent, and plays Indian in the film.
The synopsis of the plot shows it’s close enough to Bollywood romances: Anita Panchouri (Natalie Perera), the dutiful Indian daughter of a deep in debt businessman (Kabir Bedi) is about to marry a wealthy Londoner (Staz Nair) when a chance encounter with a local singer, Lee de Leon (Soca music star Machel Montano in his film debut) sets things askew. In search of a muse, de Leon agrees to perform at the engagement party for both families. Unable to deny their mutual attraction, and with the excitement of Carnival approaching, Anita must now choose between the answer to her family’s financial prayers and the possibility of real love.
Head or the heart? Love or duty? Sounds quite desi to me!
The movie has pulsating Soca music and the gorgeous island settings. So, who knows, Trinidad with its beaches, its spicy colors and its famous carnival, may become a hot Bollywood location after this film! The film will be releasing on August 5.
Here’s a quickie interview with the film’s producers to give you the back story on ‘Bazodee’.
An interview with Susanne Bohnet , one of the three producers of ‘Bazodee’.
Who are the other producers and what’s the back story on how this movie came about?
Writer and producer couple Claire Ince and Ancil McCain wanted to make a cross-over film targeting relevant subject matters in a light and sort of breezy way. They wanted to write a movie which is pure fun, yet not shallow at all, but perfect for a hot summer night to go with a date or a friend.
We all love Indian culture, and the writer has grown up in the Caribbean. My own work has spun more than 20 years in Trinidad. Making and distributing a movie representing different parts of the world is always a most exciting and rewarding adventure, especially if you get to film at a vibrant and culturally diverse place like Trinidad, whose roots are so deeply Indian.
How was it for Soca music star Machel Montano acting in this movie?
This has been a passion project for Machel Montano and his mother Lady Montano for a very long time, Machel’s core purpose is to bring cultures together, to break down existing barriers. The director Todd Kessler loves to talk about how Machel is just the most natural performer. He came to set always remembering all his lines.
It was very interesting to me to see how he never overplayed his part. His performance is actually very nuanced and balanced, as you will see. There is just one part in the film where you see him get very angry, but he dropped that line right on the first take, which felt awkward as nobody expected him to just nail it like this. He loves acting, but he always wanted to wait for a story which is authentic to his beliefs.
Will Trinidad become the new foreign location for Bollywood?
Well I don’t know that for sure. Trinidad’s Indian population is more than 40% of all people on the island, the tax credit is 35% minimum on each dollar spent, meanwhile the ratio between US and TT dollars is 1:6.5, so the Trini dollar buys incredible amounts of production value, which I believe is extremely enticing for a production company that is open-minded. In addition, Trinidad is so much fun and so incredibly beautiful, but has all the amenities of a first-world country. Production in Trinidad should be seriously considered.
How do you think the movie will be received in India?
I think Indian audiences will appreciate that the movie encompasses a lot of familiar Bollywood elements, yet has a new angle to offer, that ties in the Caribbean and the Indo-Caribbean heritage, but at the same time opens up current topics to a large Indian audience that is curious how to navigate traditional beliefs and modern ways to find love and happiness.
Lastly of course there is the music. We remixed some well-known Indian songs in a captivating way and our soundtrack features Lilly Singh (SuperWoman) and many other very successful contemporary artists. I think this movie is perfect for India, just as India marries tradition with the new modern, so does Bazodee. This is my own version of “Slumdog Millionaire” – it has a lot of heart, a relatable universal story and an irresistible, incredible soundtrack.