Review by Cole Groth
The opening shot of Four Samosas immediately reveals what we can expect from the goofy, slightly forgettable comedy/heist film from second-time director Ravi Kapoor. His cinematic choice to opt for a 4:3 aspect ratio and his somewhat uniquely entertaining direction looks distinctly like a Wes Anderson film. The heavy Bollywood influences and a good sense of specificity to South Asian culture aren’t often found in American indie films. These elements make for an entirely original yet far-from-perfect release.
The premise of this film is immediately promising. An aspiring rapper Vinny, played by a hilarious Venk Potula, gathers a ragtag crew of social rejects to steal diamonds from his ex-girlfriend’s (Sonal Shah) family. He hopes that if he can bankrupt her family, he can get them to cancel a wedding between her ex and her new, very douchey fiancée (Karan Soni). The goofy cast makes for a few laughs, but the script isn’t nearly ambitious enough to keep the comedy flowing. While the first half is a series of relatively unconnected scenes, the second half comes together in a strangely entertaining heist sequence.
The sheer ridiculousness of the heist is one of the most exciting parts of the movie. Each character cross-dresses as a senior citizen and dons a horrible accent while attempting to rob the grocery store her dad owns of an ample supply of diamonds. Since the crew’s quirkiness and stupidity are the most entertaining part of the film, it might be easy for audiences to overlook the weak motivations of any of the characters involved. Vinny has almost no chemistry with his ex, so his goal of breaking up her wedding seems pointless.
Ravi Kapoor’s direction is highly stylized. The shot composition and camera movement are a lot of fun and show that he has much promise as a director, but he’d be better off not writing his scripts in the future. While the dialogue is pretty funny, the characters are all one-dimensional, and their world feels empty. Setting the film in Little India is a good choice, but it feels like it doesn’t take place in America. It would’ve been much better to juxtapose the Indian culture with characters from other cultures. Since only one group of people is focused on, the story is compromised in scale.
Although the film’s scale isn’t that great, what Kapoor gives us is still fun enough to be a commendable job. It leans too much into Wes Anderson-ian quirkiness but manages to be very charming by the end. Four Samosas is clearly a passion project from the crew behind it. It’s rough around the edges, but that’s a good comparison to the rest of the film. Each ridiculous character is unrefined yet very entertaining. If you’re a Bollywood fan or want to support solid indie filmmaking, you should check this out. Otherwise, it might be a bit unmemorable to most audiences.
Four Samosas releases in theaters and on-demand on December 2nd.