American Born Confused Desi (ABCD) stretch its thin plot to the point of tedium
The term ‘American Born Confused Desi’ came into pop culture in the early 2000s. There was the Piyush Pandya directed film American Desi and a handful of other movies and novels that explored the psyche of second generation Americans whose families hail from India. The narratives were often about their aspirations and cultural identities.
The opening portions of this film, remade from a 2013 Malayalam film of the same name, doesn’t try too hard to get into the psyche of its protagonist Arvind (Allu Sirish). Though the term ABCD is repeatedly thrown at the audience, Arvind is not really a confused desi. He’s just a spoilt brat blowing up his father’s (Naga Babu) money. His monthly expenditure for partying and generally not doing anything useful is around $20,000. He breaks up with his girlfriend because he feels she doesn’t have the magic, whatever that means! He doesn’t think twice before tossing a burger into the bin. And, it doesn’t help that his mother gives him a hangover remedy but makes no effort to instil some sense into him. All this, in the garb of comedy.
When Arvind’s father feels it’s high time his son gets some life lessons, he sends him to India. The brat doesn’t want to come to a country that’s grappling with “population and pollution.” Arvind’s friend Bala Shanmugham or Basha (Bharath) thinks India is a good place to holiday — because its women are pretty and come in different shades, not just black or white. No, I didn’t make that up, it’s in the film, really. Though such cringe-worthy lines come from a character you shouldn’t be taking seriously, they are hard to ignore.
ABCD: American Born Confused Desi
- Cast: Allu Sirish, Bharath, Rukshar Dhillon and Naga Babu
- Direction: Sanjeev Reddy
It’s a long journey of transformation for Arvind. Incidentally, for the second week in a row a movie deals with transformation, from a person who returns from abroad. ABCD’s story is simple — what happens when Arvind and Basha have to make do with ₹5000 a month? Not a bad idea at all. The problem is in the chaotic manner in which the story is narrated.
Meanwhile, the hero woos a girl who, at least in the beginning, doesn’t fall for his cheap tricks. That happiness is short lived. It doesn’t take much effort on his part to make her believe that he’s hero material. Worse still, thousands of people believe that he’s an NRI who gave up his lavish lifestyle to lead a simple life in India. But how? The film conveniently points to manipulative television channels and print media. Overnight, Arvind is projected as the ‘millionaire who turns slumdog’.
Allu Sirish fits the part of a brat and Bharath tries to make us laugh, though the comedy is largely banal. Vennela Kishore gets a brief part as the anchor of a special programme called ‘Koffee with Kishore’. He holds up the mirror to the way news is tailored and who are projected as celebrities.
The film drags on and on, stretching its thin plot to the point of tedium. The final transformation too doesn’t feel real. It needed a lot more gravitas. Nothing really stands out in this film, barring the ‘Mella Mellaga’ song composed by Judah Sandhy and sung by Sid Sriram. The most pitiable character is the antagonist (Raja) who is, to borrow the popular phrase, all dressed up and nowhere to go. All that fretting and fuming doesn’t take him anywhere.