Posted January 19, 2014 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Movies/TV

MOVIE REVIEW: Mumbai Love – A journey of “fate and chances”

Our guest reviewer Shayne Zalameda was invited to a special screening of the upcoming culture-crossing romantic comedy Mumbai Love. Here’s what she had to say about the film. The floor’s yours, Shayne!


Blurring the line between indie and mainstream films, Mumbai Love presents a series of comedic events and love twists in a warm and light story about cultural traditions, interracial friendships, and challenging beliefs.

A self-made Indian-Filipino named Nandi (Kiko Matos) is being forced by his parents to follow the Indian tradition of arranged marriage. But as much as he loves his parents, Nandi cannot simply follow the tradition. He believes that marriage should be done out of love, and that he will eventually find his soulmate. One day, he meets a beautiful, free-spirited French-Filipina named Ella (Solenn Heussaff) in the heart of Mumbai, and their encounter starts a journey of love consisting mostly of fate and chances.

The film is a rom-com that hinges heavily on coincidences. Through some tricks of fate, Nandi always loses Ella; however, they still manage to find their way to each other nearly every time. It’s a pretty difficult premise involving two different races, but when the film plays it as vaudeville, it actually works. Unfortunately, the film isn’t brave enough to maintain its rather exceptional theatrics, as it struggles towards its climax near the end. It’s difficult to take the drama plot seriously when the film has conditioned you into believing that everything happens by chance.

Three-fourths of the film feels entertaining, and the charm relies on its ensemble. The lead actors are still rough on the edges, but the supporting cast is endearing, as they hold the narrative together with their distinct personalities. Raymund Bagatsing’s performance as an Indian kingpin (Rashid), which included an unexpected slomo, is remarkably adorable. Jun Sabayton (as Beng David) wears an “Anak ni Paquito” shirt, litters around the neighborhood, and always warns his fake-mustache-bearing son about Indians (“Isasako ka niyan” – “He’ll put you inside a sack”), speaking of guidance and innocence. Jason Gainza (Mama Nika) is at his best, delivering lines of a protective motherly figure that are always good for a laugh (or even just a chuckle). Meanwhile, Ronnie Lazaro (Mang Mando) is a tough-looking poetic lover who submits to all his wife’s commands, and Angelina Kanapi (Ms. David) as Ella’s boss with long armpit hair serves as cheap comedic relief. And of course, there’s Martin Escudero (Marco), who never fails to surprise and give personality to the character he’s portraying – Ella’s co-worker, who seems in love with her. The twist at the end is foreshadowed, but I still didn’t see it coming; the way the characters act in some sequences manages to sow confusion, which is both a good thing and a bad thing.

To the film’s credit, the cinematography is nothing less than remarkable. The attention to detail – from the landscape shots of buildings in India up to the old and big pink house in Laguna – is visually pleasing. The bright and warm color tones of the shots, plus the deliberate smoke effects and boldly ‘Bollywood’ details such as motorbikes and dancing scenes, give it a campy yet cheerful feel.

Overall, Mumbai Love‘s attempt at establishing the differences and stigmas between different racial cultures is both interesting and entertaining, as it tries to promote a new perspective. Its opening scene introduces us to an entirely different world, with barriers of language and tradition which were later on destroyed. The ending is unexpected and rather tedious, but it wraps things up neatly. For two hours’ worth of fun and culture points, watch it.


Mumbai Love opens in theaters nationwide on January 22. Watch the trailer HERE.


Read Shayne’s observations about movies, music, dining, and life in general on her personal blog, she said (http://misstache.wordpress.com).

Mikael Angelo Francisco