Reel Asian 2014: Brahmin Bull
Sid Sharma’s (Sendhil Ramamurthy) life is in a tailspin that he cannot seem to get out off. His marriage has eroded to the point where he and his wife Ellie (Cassidy Freeman) have temporarily separated for the last or six month with no sign of resolution. To make matters worse, after years of paying his dues, Sid gets demoted at his architectural firm for openly disagreeing with client. Drowning his sorrows in alcohol and one-night stands, the last thing that Sid expects to see is his estranged father Ashok (Roshan Seth), arrive at his door.
In Los Angeles for a conference, and having had no contact with his son since Sid’s wedding day, the engineering professor hopes to use his time in LA to rekindling the bond with his son. Or at least that is what it seems on the surface. As they spend a rather rocky week trying to find common ground, such as their shared love for tennis, both men are forced to confront secrets of the past and present. One of which being the fact that Ashok’s former lover, Helen (Mary Steenburgen) who he has not seen in twenty years, just so happens to be at the same conference.
Looking at how the sins of a father can have a lasting impact on the son, director Mahesh Pailoor’s makes a solid feature debut with this film. While Brahmin Bulls hits many of the notes one would expect from this type of tale, it is almost too predictable at times, there is an inherent honesty to the characters that keep us glued to the screen throughout the narrative. These are men who are not so much damaged, but rather are in need of growing up emotionally. Sid is quick to lay blame on others for his predicament, but does not take stock in his own self-destructive ways. Whereas Ashok was too caught up in his own desires that he neglected to consider what it was doing to his family.
While some of the tropes Pailoor employs are rather traditional for a film such as this, he is able to overcome these short comings thanks in part to the strong performances in the film. Pailoor pulls together a strong cast, though Justin Bartha is woefully underused, that are more than capable of producing added layers of richness to the tale. Roshan Seth is sensational in the film, bringing both humour and heart to his role. He convincingly conveys a man who wanted to follow his heart, but was bound by the duties that come with an arranged marriage. Despite focusing on an Indian-American family, Seth’s performance really emphasizes the universality of Pailoor’s story.
Brahmin Bulls is one of those engaging dramedys that does not necessarily bring anything new to the genre, but works well nonetheless. It is easy to get swept up in the comfortable rhythms of the film as a whole. Pailoor shows much promise as a director, especially in regards to getting the most out of his actors. Though the script is a tad conventional, Brahmin Bulls is a film that nicely captures the complexities of love, family, and responsibility in an emotionally honest and amusing way.
Sunday, November 16, 7:00 PM, SilverCity Richmond Hill