If you ever stayed in with your family on a Friday night, Deepika Daggubati’s directorial debut Waking Dreams is the type of movie your whole family will find worth watching after a pizza dinner and a heated game of scrabble.
The film’s half American family comedy and half Bollywood musical will sweep you into the Texan landscape and may leave you expecting a sort of tongue in cheek commentary on how an Indian family deals with the trials of living through American culture, but this is not the case at all. The story is primarily focused on Latha, an American-Indian girl, who goes against her parent’s wishes of going to medical school in order to find her own path in life and maybe even find a little love along the way.
Cultural issues take a back seat in this one, as Latha can pretty much be mistaken for your average American girl that seems to take a strong interest in Bollywood movies. Plus, Sulekha Naidu does a great job of not only making Latha likeable and quirky, but also has the moves to possibly feature herself in a future Bollywood endeavor. Actually, the same can be said for all of Latha’s family, friends, and foes as well. Everyone, was so natural and seemed like the average “type” of person you would meet anywhere.
Latha’s father, played by Sharat Babu, is an over-bearing father and wants the best for his family in the wrong way. Latha’s mother, played by Sakina Jaffrey, is his level-headed housewife, who wants to rekindle new purpose in her life after sacrificing her dreams for her family. Colin, played by Jamie Elman, is your average “nice guy” and love interest who tries to bring out the best in Latha. Finally, Rebecca, played by Megan Ward, is a typical jerk-boss that tries to hinder Latha’s progress on every turn.
To see more Asian actors and actresses in American films is a breath of fresh air, fulfilling roles and archetypes that are not limited to their ethnic or cultural background such as the sauve ladies’ man Ashwin, played by Maruizio Rasti, and the eccentric game company CEO Toly, played by Navid Negaban. I am also not claiming that the movie is completely devoid of culture, though culture is seen as more of backdrop to the film’s main focus on the theme of self-discovery. Daggubati is clear in her direction and there are plenty of moments where Indian culture is celebrated in vibrant colors, song, and dance.
Still, the film does lack something at points. Particularly, the Bollywood scenes seem to lack context, and rather than characters slowing finding themselves, they seem to just continuously push back until they suddenly move from point A to point B making it difficult to relate to the characters at times, since many of their tribulations seem to be solved by solutions that inadvertently land on their laps.
As a result, it may be necessary to remind yourself that this is a family comedy after all, and the issues mentioned above will hopefully become irrelevant once you realize that one of the characters is wearing a lobster hat. Still, the film is definitely an enjoyable and entertaining way to take a break after a long night of bickering with your family on whether “confuzzled” is a word or not.
by Staff Writer Sung Kong