"Battling Brothers Meet Beach Blanket Bingo"
The apparently long awaited star-studded Indian movie, RACE, is a motley mix of fast cars, faster horses, 1960’s beach musicals, spaghetti westerns, and Inspector Clouseau detective movies, all laced around the themes of envy, greed and murder. The movie has mixed so many genres together that it is hard not to laugh at it instead of with it. While RACE is spoken in Hindi (with English subtitles), the dialog is mixed with English phrases.
Two Indian brothers in South Africa have inherited equal shares of their father’s stud ranch, Stallions, with the stipulation that, if one brother should be accidentally killed, the other will receive double indemnity. Thus begins the journey of the two brothers as they attempt to manage the Stallions empire. The eldest brother, Rajeev Singh, is suave and savvy, while his alcoholic younger brother, Ranvir, comes across as more of a romantic clown.
Within the first ten minutes of the movie, Ranvir observes one horse owner fix a race, paying off a jockey for pulling back his horse at the last minute. Ranvir, with no forethought or consideration for the consequences, blows up the jockey’s car in retaliation. A truck driver carrying a large load of drainage pipe intentionally releases his load onto Ranvir’s car, causing a horrific crash, which, remarkably, Ranvir survives.
The story then switches gears to a celebratory gathering outside the racetrack, where younger brother, Rajeev, grabs a guitar and breaks into song and dance on stage in a scene taken straight from a Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello film from the 1960s. Ranvir makes advances to Rajeev’s former girlfriend, Sonia. He later swears to his brother that, if she will have him, he will never drink alcohol again.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a beautiful secretary, Sofia, is making advances towards Ranvir, but to no avail. Ranvir’s heart still belongs to Sonia, but he wants to see his brother free from the bondage of alcohol and is willing to sacrifice his love life. He sets up a date for Rajeev and Sonia, and leaves the two alone. Once again, viewers are subjected to a musical interlude as Rajeev swoons a love song to his beloved Sonia, who walks through a path of rose petals to his awaiting convertible. “Over-the-top” is too mild a description for this nauseatingly corny interlude.
Rajeev confronts Sonia’s past and learns that her intentions are not honorable. As part of a business agreement, they agree to marry and plot to kill Ranvir. Married in what appears to be a Christian ceremony, they begin to set up the murder. Part of the setup includes Sonia’s seduction of Ranvir in the horse stables, which Rajeev happily watches on closed-circuit television. Ranvir, however, is grieved because of his adulterous behavior with his brother’s wife. He secretly meets her. Sonia then reveals the plot to Ranvir and promises to kill Rajeev instead.
Deceived again, Ranvir is pushed from the roof to his death. After the murder of Ranvir, the movie reveals that it is really Sofia who has been involved with Rajeev against both Sonia and Ranvir. And, so goes the rest of this odd piece of filmmaking.
Enter the Indian Inspector Clouseau, Robert DeCosta, and his dimwit assistant, Mini. The film slows down, and tediously follows DeCosta’s bizarre pursuit of Rajeev and his accomplice, Sofia, to a predictable conclusion.
(H, B, C, L, VV, SS, AA, MMM) Light humanist worldview with moral elements and one apparent Christian wedding ceremony; one use of bathroom language which was not used in the subtitle; strong violence includes murder, attempted murder, violent car crashes, mildly bloody scene, car explosions, man falls off of 20th floor of building, viewing of corpse in morgue; strong sexual content (not extremely graphic) includes steamy sex scene in stable, but without visible nudity, many seductive musical numbers with hip gyrations, extreme mini-skirts like the 1960’s, and adultery and fornication between the characters in the story; brother plays alcoholic, alcohol abuse is depicted as weakness, alcohol is dominant in social settings and parties, but is only abused by main character; no smoking or drugs; and, greed, lying, deceit.
In the movie RACE from India, two handsome young businessmen in South Africa inherit their father’s horse business and pursue success. Their hearts are filled with greed, envy, betrayal, and murder, but they manage to let loose in a number of musical productions reminiscent of the 1960s. Everyone has an agenda, none of which are honorable. Greed spawns seduction and murder. In the midst of it all, comes “RD,” the Inspector Clouseau of South Africa, along with his dimwitted assistant, Mini, to pursue the murderers.
RACE is a motley mix of fast cars, faster horses, 1960’s beach musicals, spaghetti westerns, and Inspector Clouseau detective movies. It mixes so many genres that it is hard not to laugh at it instead of with it. There is no reference to any religious practice except for what looks like a Christian wedding. The story reflects a high rolling society where greed is the primary god, followed by envy and murder. As one brother declares, “I can never forgive anyone who deceives me,” so unforgiveness is another theme throughout this movie. Most viewers will not forgive the filmmakers for such a smorgasbord of celluloid.