[SPOILER] My wish for Desai was especially hard to dismiss once it is revealed that the convenient look-alike replacement-king is in fact the half-brother of the rightful king and the evil younger brother/prince who kidnapped him in an attempt to get the throne himself. When I told Zenda fan s3rioussam about this twist, he was outraged, but I'm just chalking it up to a general sense of "Hey, it's Indian cinema—of course there are long-lost brothers," though I realize that may be an irrelevant projection of Hindi masala onto Bengali literature and cinema (this film is based on a book by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay). [END SPOILER] This story should be rollicking fun—you can tell from the ingredients—and I saw so precious little sparkle in this adaptation. The costumes and locations are nice enough but not in any more notable a way than those in other princely adventures. The standout among them is a sort of lotus-base shower chair that Uttam stumbles across while exploring "his" new palace, with water jets activated by little foot-operated buttons.**
|To paraphrase Bart Simpson, where's my lily pond with elephant sculpture?|
Overall it's just so meh. The action is meh, the emotion is meh, the intrigue is meh (thus rendering it not very intriguing after all). The music by Ali Akbar Khan, though, is divine. Listen to this piece that runs under the credits. I love how the sounds of an actual train are coupled with evocative percussion and other more melodic instruments.
** A quick and very tangential note inspired by my job, for which I have recently been researching shoes from various parts of the world: the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto has padukas that have water valves that spray a cleansing blast with each step! Click here to see!