Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Beeba Boys: Deepa Mehta Goes Gangster

Jeet Johar combines the worst of the old traditional ways and jaded modern sensibilities. He still lives with his parents, but he is not shy about unambiguously calling out his rivals in television interviews. Most women would avoid long-term entanglements with him, but Canadian Katya Drobot was never accused of being a deep thinker. Regardless, she will be the least of his problems in Deepa Mehta’s Beeba Boys (trailer here), which releases today on DVD in Canada.

The Beeba Boys are good like fellas and pretty like that Boy Floyd. They are Vancouver’s nattiest South Asian gang and their leader Johar has become a role model to innumerable bullied Sikh youngsters. He has plenty of enemies, but old school “local businessman” Robbie Greywal is the most dangerous.

Unbeknownst to Johar, Greywal has placed a traitor in his midst. However, as Nep befriends his fellow Beeba Boys as well as Johar’s grade school son, he starts to have ninth and tenth thoughts about his loyalties. Fortunately, Greywal had the foresight to let his attractive daughter Choti handle their undercover mole. It is pretty clear Nep is interested in her. He and “Manny the Joker” also befriend Johar lonely new wife, Drobot, but that is a pretty platonic relationship. Emotionally, Drobot might be in a state of arrested development, but she is not suicidal. Of course, there is no need for anyone in Johar’s orbit to kill themselves. There will be plenty of gangsters and hitman out to do the job for them.

Who knew Deepa Mehta had such a slickly violent gangster beatdown in her? Granted, none of the elements here are jaw-droppingly new, aside from its Sikh cultural identity, but she marshals them with the spiffy style of a Michael Mann film. Even if the broad strokes of their carouse-and-fall story are familiar, she puts everyone through their paces and makes sure they always look good.

Without question, Mehta’s ace card is Indian movie star Randeep Hooda, whom you might recall from Sunny Leone’s Bollywood debut (hmm, what was that called again?). As Johar, he snarls quite charismatically. His Cheshire Cat smile and so-deep-it-is-almost-demonic voice are enormously gangster-cinema-friendly. Frankly, a good two-thirds of the Beeba Boys are basically incredibly well-dressed extras, but jewelry designer and Wes Anderson repertory player Waris Ahluwalia makes the most of his Tarantino-esque dialogue as Manny.

Probably the most important thing about Beeba Boys is that everyone really looks fab. That is not a bad thing—shallow perhaps, but still a lot of fun. Recommended for fans of gangsters movies and Bollywood crime dramas (sorry, no musical numbers here), Beeba Boys releases today (1/12) on Canadian DVD, and surely some sort of American distribution will soon follow.