Film Review: Marigold


Film: Marigold

Director: Willard Carroll

Co-producer: Adlabs Films

Cast: Salman Khan, Ali Larter, Kiran Juneja, Vikas Bhalla, Simone singh, Suchitra Pillai and Nandana Sen

Rating: 1/5

Insipid, clichéd and tiredly pretentious, these words best fit this much touted ‘Salman Khan’s first Hollywood film.’ There may be many other words that describe the film but they are best avoided as most would be expletives.

Yes, the movie is that bad. Not only is the screenplay watery, the acting, casting, dialogues, music and costumes all make you wonder if the makers were planning to make the movie run on hype and publicity alone? But for the sake of the art that cinema is considered, let us give these aspects and the movie a deeper look. 

Marigold is about an arrogant, rude and demanding American actress, Marigold Lexton (Ali Larter) who lands in India with an offer for a plum role in an Indian movie. When that movie does not take off, she manages to find a role in another film where she meets Salman Khan, (Prem, yet again) who is the choreographer of the film. They fall in love only to realise later that Prem has a fiancée Janvi (Nandana Sen) back in Rajasthan about whom he hasn’t told Marigold.

While this desperately in love fiancée is shedding copious tears at seeing her fiancé in love with someone else, Marigold’s boyfriend Barry (Ian Fraser) too lands in India, shedding more copious tears at the prospect of not being able to find Marigold. How do the lovers come out if this love quadrangle/entangle and how does love triumph in the end is what the film is about.

Needless to say, the plot is thin. But what makes it worse is the screenplay, which is anorexic. The treatment if the film is extremely superficial and characters are without any kind of definition. Every character has a single objective in the film each and none go beyond theirs. There are no graphs in any characters except Marigold’s, making each one of the others seem like props or caricatures. Her character is supposed to personify the utter spiritual upliftment that true love can bring to a soul. These but seem just fancy words when applied to what shows on the screen. Salman Khan’s character seems to have been told just one thing, “Be Prem” (whatever that means) and he unfailingly tries to do just that in the film. The rest of the characters do not deserve a mention.

It is possible that a film that has a thin story and a bad screenplay has its moments. Those moments come in instances of good acting or good chemistry, more important when it is a love story. Lack of depth has never before affected a film more. The absolute lack of chemistry between the lead pair is amplified by the lack of any impressive acting abilities. A lot of blame definitely goes to the character sketch and the director but a shallow role is exactly where an actor shows his prowess. By adding his own nuances to the character, instilling it with newer layers. All Salman adds here are new intonations to his silly dialogues with Ali doing as much as her part reserves for her. The English dialogues are extremely unreal and ‘correct’ leaving them no scope to do anything even if they wished to.

The lenses through, which the film is shown to us are staid. They don’t do enough justice to the film, in fact they do ample injustice to the subject. There are no evocative shots in this love story, which is about love changing lives. The colors of the palaces in Rajasthan and sets and costumes of Mumbai are bright and striking but the softer tones of romance are missing. In fact, a lot of shots look inept in their angles and cutting. Talking of which, editing is the closest competitor against the screenplay for the worst attribute of the film. Shots that should have been cut lot earlier have lags and those which should have had a miniscule or more stay are clipped a bit too soon. To be fair to the editor, it may have been that the raw material itself would have been inadequate and this is the best that could have been done. If so, God help future Indo-Hollywood collaborations!

A generally subsidiary element of films that does not invite or incite a lot of criticisms is the costumes and choreography. But this film, claiming to be a musical and a colourful adventure in India, fails miserably to match even standards set by C grade Bollywood films. The steps are clumsy set on clumsier tunes (one wonders what happened to Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy this time round) and the costumes are horrendously similar to what we used to see in the 90’s and what we thankfully have left behind. 

There is no one singular facet of the movie that fails it. At the core of the film lies the fact that it is an American director (Willard Carroll) trying to make a typical Bollywood film. All art needs a soul and a soul cannot be learnt by watching movies or reading books. A Bollywood film is much beyond the apparent color, music, dance, masala and melodrama. And then there is a universal language of film and story-telling that knows no boundaries. Sadly, Marigold has lost out on both counts. 

An American actress would be a point of intrigue to non-English-speaking audience but the language definitely leave them out of the league. Having overlooked their intelligence, if it is then aimed at the urban English-speaking audience it makes one wonder who is the film targeted to after all?