Malasa Review

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After losing his family in a place crash, that he narrowly escaped travelling on, Krishna has turned to heroin. He moves in with his mother's family in Canada and becomes involved in their lives.


A masala is a mix of spices, and this movie could stand as a working definition of a melange. Set in the East Indian community of Canada, the film is a free-wheeling drama of immigrant culture, full of non-naturalistic tricks, sly humour even at the expense of things it is supposed to take seriously, little editorial speeches, fantastic elements, multicultural politics and sex wars and convoluted plotting.

Krishna, played by the writer-director, is a leather-jacketed ex-junkie, saved from death when he refused to go back to India with his family on a jet which mysteriously exploded, who gets involved with two branches of his family, both headed by characters played by the versatile Saeed Jaffrey.

Jaffrey Number One is a wealthy sari manufacturer with a teasing sexpot wife who is in a deal with Sikh revolutionaries to corner the sari export market by capitalising on a wave of violence in the old country, while Jaffrey Number Two is a meek postman who has miraculously come into possession of a stamp worth five million dollars and who is being pressured from all sides to give it up. Jaffrey also takes a third role, that of the blue-faced Lord Krishna, a Hindu deity who talks to the postman’s aged mother through a videocassette and diffidently intervenes in the affairs of mortals, even to the extent of dressing up as a hockey player.

The hero drifts from job to job while his various cousins are caught up in the plot complications, which wind up with the mounties attacking the dedication of a Hindu parade. This is so full of energetic time-outs — grossly fantasised sex scenes, deliberately crass musical numbers patterned on those of Hindi films, cut-aways to a dry ice Heaven — that its fragile story seems to have collapsed, with scenes deliberately played out in the wrong order until you’re sure the reels have been mixed up.

Some of the heavier criticisms of complacent Indian values, especially a hilarious speech about how useless Asian men are, would seem racist if made by an outsider, but the film should be commended for dealing with the tensions within a community rather than falling back on the old reliable ethnic movie plot of having a hero stand against racism.

It is frequently bewildering and is at something of a loss for an ending, but this is certainly one weird little picture.