Nina's Heavenly Delights - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer.
IT MAY be called Nina’s Heavenly Delights but the film as a whole contains so many dodgy ingredients that they combine to make a recipe for disaster.
Written, directed and produced by Pratibha Parmar, the film follows the fortunes of Nina Shah (Shelley Conn), a young Indian woman who returns to Glasgow following the death of her father to find the family-owned restaurant on the verge of being sold and past relationships still in need of attention.
Having jilted her fiance practically at the altar, Nina has her own ghosts to lay to rest but resolves to win back the admiration of her mother and close family by entering The Best of the West Curry Competition in a bid to win the prestigious title for the third time in honour of her dad.
The ensuing romantic comedy attempts to combine elements of Bollywood spectacle with romance, laughter and emotion but ends up as a horribly cliched, overly sentimental and painfully obvious concoction of countless other romantic comedy dramas.
Parmar says she was inspired by the likes of Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman, Stanley Tucci’s Big Night and French film Ma Vie en Rose but Nina’s Heavenly Delights comes nowhere near to the quality of any of those.
Instead, it’s over-populated by stereotypical characters and governed by contrived situations. For starters, Nina herself has her own sexual feelings for best friend Lisa (Laura Fraser) to contend with in a plot device that feels ripped straight from the similarly dire Imagine Me & You, while her other closest friend, Bobbi, is a wannabe Bollywood drag queen who’s played to maximum camp effect by Ronny Jhutti.
Why is it that homosexual characters are frequently used as light relief in romantic comedies, as well as the ones to tell the main protagonists what they’re really feeling about a situation? It has become a tired and lazy concept.
The odd mix of accents also feels awkward, especially since usually reliable actors such as Art Malik struggle to make the combination of Indian and Scottish sound anything other than embarrassing.
And the overblown finale, during which just about every character comes clean to reveal a secret passion in the run-up to the curry competition, is so absurd that it eventually leaves a very bad taste (not to mention a schmaltz overload).
Had Parmar followed the likes of Ang Lee and Stanley Tucci in keeping things low-key and restrained, she may well have fared better (especially in light of the good performances provided by both Conn and Fraser). But rather like some of the failed dishes her characters attempt themselves, the mix is simply too mis-calculated to be appetising. The end result leaves a very bad taste indeed.
Running time: 94mins