Thanks to the Canadian Screen Awards for having Richard in again last night to host the Press Room. He interviewed the winners as they left the stage and chatted with Mary Walsh, Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse, Jennifer Baichwal, Stephan James, Deepa Mehta, Theodore Pellerin, the cast of Un Colonie, Catherine O’Hara and the gang from Schitt’s Creek, Jasmin Mozaffari, the Kids in the Freakin’ Hall, AmyBeth McNulty, Kim Coates and many others. Thanks to Anna-Lea Boeki, Alexandra Staseson and Mr. Will Wong for the pictures!
Happy Canada Week. Here at the House of Crouse we go big. Not satisfied to simply celebrate Canada Day on July 1, we’re honouring our home and native land for the whole week! Spend some time with us and noted patriots Brent Butt, Jay Baruchel, Jill Hennessy, Deepa Mehta, Patrick Mckenna and the most Canadian being of all, Captain Canuck. Stop by and stand on guard with us.
Richard’s CP24 reviews for Michael Fassbender as iCon Steve Jobs in the movie of the same name, Ellen Page and Julianne Moore as LGBT trailblazers in “Freeheld,” Deepa Mehta’s “Beeba Boys” and the Alison Brie rom com “Sleeping with Other People.”
Richard’s reviews Michael Fassbender as iCon Steve Jobs in the movie of the same name, Ellen Page and Julianne Moore as LGBT trailblazers in “Freeheld,” Deepa Mehta’s “Beeba Boys” and the Alison Brie rom com “Sleeping with Other People.”
Deepa Mehta’s new film plays like Tarantino sprinkled with garam masala. Or Scorsese run through a spice grinder. The director of “Water,” “Bollywood/Hollywood” and “Midnight’s Children” adds a gangland twist to her latest film “Beeba Boys.”
Jeet Johar (Randeep Hooda) is the ruthless leader of a gang of second and third generation Indo-Canadian thugs. Known as the Beeba Boys (it ironically means Good Boys, like nicknaming a giant “Tiny”) they are a young, flashy, attention-seeking group who wear bespoke suits, brag about their exploits on television and never back down from a fight as they try and take over Vancouver’s drug and arms trade.
Their flamboyant behaviour doesn’t sit well with the area’s rival old school crime family led by Robbie Grewal (Gulshan Grover). Into this mix comes Nep (Ali Momen), a recent Beeba Boy recruit who may be playing for both sides.
The movie begins with a violent sequence that sets it apart from Mehta’s films. Jeet and the gang set off to even a score, driving flashy cars and joking before getting down to business. There’s gunfire and street violence, certainly not Mehta’s milieu but it soon becomes apparent that thematically “Beeba Boys” follows in the footsteps of the director’s other films in its examination of identity and assimilation.
The film literally starts with a bang, but don’t expect that level of intensity all the way through. Random violence and underworld one-liners abound but the takeaway here is the Mehta’s examination of the South Asian immigrant experience. When Jeet’s alcoholic father (Kulbushan Kharbanda) tells of eking out a living as a cranberry bog worker, one of the few jobs available to him as a new Canadian, he paints a vivid portrait of his experience, describing a life his son rejects.
“Beeba Boys” works better as an examination of culture than as a gangster movie. Hooda is a charismatic and dangerous presence but the movie just doesn’t have the swagger Tarantino and Scorsese bring to their work.
“The whole point of doing work is to surprise yourself and others,” says Deepa Mehta. The director of art house hits like Water, Bollywood/Hollywood and Midnight’s Children will certainly raise a few eyebrows with her new film Beeba Boys.
The movie is a violent look at a Vancouver gang of second and third generation Indo-Canadian criminals known as the Beeba Boys. It features the first car chase in any of her films and certainly contains more gunplay and violence than any other of her personal, introspective movies.
“I’ve always been a sucker for gangster films,” she says. “Tarantino, eat your heart out.”
The Toronto-based Mehta first became aware of Vancouver’s Sikh gangs from a CBC documentary. It’s a violent culture she says the rest of the country is largely unaware of—“After you cross the Rockies it’s like everybody has amnesia about what happens in our own country.”—but one that gripped her.
“As a director it is really exciting for me to explore a world I don’t know much about. It is a learning process. Exploring this world of Beeba Boys, of gangsters, the search for identity, the desire to be seen, the looking for acceptance is a world that is very familiar to me but the way it is told is completely unfamiliar. That was exciting.
“They’re not like the Mafia. They’re not at all like the Triads. They’re not at all like the Yakuza and they’re not like the Hell’s Angels. They are very culturally based and I found that fascinating.”
Whether it is a period piece or a modern day film Mehta’s work turns the camera on her community and the underpinnings of that culture. Critics have expressed surprise at Beeba Boys because when you put a gun in somebody’s hand in a Deepa Mehta movie that’s what draws all the attention.
“I’m just happy they are talking about the film,” she says. “The ones who want to focus on the guns will focus on the guns and that’s fine. Each to their own. The ones who know my work and wish to see something that is not just on the surface will see that it is a continuation of my work. Thematically it is a continuation of everything I’ve done because it is a film about identity but the story is different and the story calls for gangsters and of course they are not going to be carrying lollipops in their hands. Let’s get real.”
In 2008, a year after Deepa Mehta’s film Water was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, she teamed with Salman Rushdie to develop a movie from one of his novels.
“To this day I have no clue what made me turn around to him and say, ‘Hey Salman, who has the rights to Midnight’s Children?,’” she says.
As soon as Rushdie agreed to sign over the option to one of his best-known books, a door-stopping epic about Saleem Sinai, a Zelig-like character whose remarkable life was inextricably linked to India’s transition from British colonialism to independence and the partition of India, she was panicked, but only for a moment.
“I said, ‘O God, what have I done?’ Everything went through my mind at the same time: iconic book, iconic writer, Booker of the Booker, everyone knows it in the world, millions of readers… what have I done? Then that just left. All that doubt just left and I was thrilled.”
Saleem’s (Satya Bhabha) journey begins when he is born at the stroke of midnight, August 14, 1947, the precise moment India divided. He is one of the happy children “of the glorious hour,” joining an elite group of kids who share his birthday, including Shiva of the Knees, Saleem’s adversary and Parvati-the-witch.
Unfortunately for him, he can only see and hear them as visions in his head. His extrasensory ability, giant nose and questions about parentage make him an outcast in his own family. As he grows up he becomes a soldier, suffers amnesia, lives in exile, survives a “cleansing” of the Jama Masjid slum, is held as a political prisoner and reconnects with some of the Midnight’s Children.
“It’s basically a coming of age story,” says Mehta, who shot the film in 651 different locations in Sri Lanka over 69 days, “which is what attracted me to the book for years. It’s a story of searching for family. It’s about love, about finding a home and how sometimes bloodlines aren’t the only things that unite us.
“Saleem becomes a vehicle, a real, human vehicle who is an unlikely hero because he is certainly not one of The Avengers, and he is not Harry Potter nor is he an X-Man. He is a human, feeling, frail lovely, warm and ultimately a good guy. It’s just a lovely journey through history.”
Toronto-based director Deepa Mehta is best know for making controversial, searing dramas like Fire and Earth, and has earned a reputation as the new voice of Indian cinema. Her latest film is a change of pace. Set in Canada, Bollywood / Hollywood is a comedy that infuses a North American sensibility to the conventional Bollywood formula. Cultures clash in the film as Rahul (Rahul Khanna), a wealthy Indian-Canadian man tries to appease his family by hiring a “Spanish” escort to pose as his Indian fiancée at his sister’s wedding. Mix a good-sized dollop of Pretty Woman with some sparkling song-and-dance routines and the result is a light-hearted romp that reinvents the tried and true Bollywood recipe. Some nice work from the young leads, while Ranjit Chowdhry, as the female impersonating butler and the late Dina Pathak provide comic relief.