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July 11th, 2009


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12:24 am - There's Even a Guy Named Sunil in This Movie
You have likely never heard of Shades of Ray since it was not released in theatres and instead is available exclusively on Amazon on Demand.

But it stars Zachary Levi and Sarah Shahi and Fran Kranz and Bonnie Somerville and also features Rex Lee and Cristine Rose and Lucy Davis, so it is tailor-made for the audience of People Who Read My Journal!

Half-Pakistani writer/director Jaffar Mahmood cast Zachary Levi as half-Pakistani actor/bartender Ray Rehman. And no, he doesn't look half-Pakistani at all, and it never really works, and the audition scenes where he's being "typecast" and forced to do funny accents don't come off right at all because he doesn't look half-Pakistani. But Mahmood was rejected by two production companies who wanted him to change the character to be half-black or half-Latino instead, and he walked away and raised the money himself so he could make the movie on his own terms, and if his own terms include choosing Zachary Levi, then so be it.

Ray Rehman has a Pakistani dad and a white mom. Around the time he proposes to his white girlfriend, his dad shows up on his doorstep, having been kicked out. And since he's there, why doesn't he introduce Ray to a nice half-Pakistani girl? Now Ray has to CHOOSE! And also reunite his parents. Symbolically or whatever.

As an independent film, it is perfectly enjoyable, if uneven; all the parts don't quite fit together, as if some of the pieces don't really know what their purpose is. But that's mostly the ancillary stuff; the main story with Ray and his parents and his lady loves is well done.

But the main appeal, of course, is that ZACHARY LEVI IS BASICALLY PLAYING ME. Sure, he's only half-brown, but as someone who's all brown and mainly attracted to white girls despite his parents' wanting him to marry a brown one, I obviously identified with him and what he has to deal with. For instance, when he complains to his dad about being set up with a "random girl," his dad exlaims, "What 'random'? She's your uncle's best friend in medical school's classmate's daughter!" SERIOUSLY THAT IS HOW IT WORKS.

There were times when I almost wanted to cry just because someone made a movie about South Asians. I just forget how goddamn rare that is. Bollywood is not my life. This is my life. American Desi is my life. Bend It Like Beckham is my life. The Namesake is my life.

Except not.

Like Born Confused, Shades of Ray tells the story of a South Asian who's allowed to date white folk until their parents force them to marry someone South Asian WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE HOT AND AWESOME AND PERFECT AND HOW IS THAT ACTUALLY A CONFLICT? No one tells the story of the guy who was never allowed to date anyone, who wasn't even allowed to go to prom, who couldn't even date in college because he didn't want to be forced to lie his parents, who is now being set up with uncle's best friend's classmate's daughters who aren't even interested in him. Look, if my parents found me a girl who looked like Sarah Shahi and whose list of favorite TV shows on MySpace began with Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, I would be set. (As a side note, HOLY CRAP SARAH SHAHI IS HOT UM MAYBE I SHOULD WATCH LIFE.)

Maybe I really should write my experience, because who the fuck else is going to?
Current Mood: depresseddepressed
Current Music: Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell

(57 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

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From:chrryblssmninja
Date:July 11th, 2009 07:41 am (UTC)
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Cristine Rose and Lucy Davis
OH MY GOSH HOW

I'd like to see a movie where mixed kids like me don't have a identity crisis as the core conflict of the character arc/movie plot. Some people don't mind being everything, sheesh
The plots are all "you must choose" leading to "be yourself" and while that's a good message and can make a good movie if done in a great way, it just gets boring after a while
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 07:51 am (UTC)
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Yeah, wouldn't it be great if someone who wasn't white had, like, a regular story that had nothing to do with the fact that he wasn't white? Not that we should stop telling stories of cultural identity crises, but there really ought to be more stories about non-white people just being...people. What was that movie about the Chinese guys just going out and partying? Better Luck Tomorrow? Oh, actually, it was about entering a world of petty crime and material excess. Which is sort of like partying. I think it was supposed to be good.
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From:shamoogity
Date:July 11th, 2009 08:06 am (UTC)
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Sarah Shahi's hotness is the primary reason I watch Life. She is on my short list of girls for whom I would switch teams. And her character on Life is so tough and badass that it just adds to the hotness.

Have you seen East is East? I haven't seen it since my early teens, so I could be remembering wrong, but I thought it was a pretty great portrayal of cultural differences between South Asian parents and their Western-raised kids. A nice Canadian movie about a similar situation with a Chinese family is Double Happiness. With bonus Leoben for BSG fans.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
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I think I've heard of East Is East but haven't seen it. And I hadn't heard of Double Happiness.
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From:sabra_n
Date:July 11th, 2009 08:39 am (UTC)
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Sarah Shahi makes me question my straightness. Then I look at Damian Lewis and am reassured again. :) And yes, you absolutely should watch Life. It's closed canon now! Only 32 episodes. Dooo eeet.
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From:grimorie
Date:July 11th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC)
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Eee! A review of Shades of Ray I've been wanting to watch this movie in forever! Because Sarah Shahi = awesome and yes, you should watch Life! I need to find myself a copy of SoR stat!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
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You can watch it on Amazon VOD for a mere three bucks!
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From:raelee
Date:July 11th, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)
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Maybe I really should write my experience, because who the fuck else is going to?

Yes, Sunil, you should.

Edited at 2009-07-11 12:30 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:miniglik
Date:July 11th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC)
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Maybe I really should write my experience, because who the fuck else is going to?

Remember that conversation last night where you're all "duh, of COURSE you should do that!" This is my feelings here exactly. It's entirely obvious, and it will be completely awesome.

Not that you can't also write about people with similar ethnic heritage NOT dealing with cultural crisis, or about people with differing similar ethnic heritage. Or whatever.
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From:silveronthetree
Date:July 11th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Maybe I really should write my experience, because who the fuck else is going to?
do it Do it Do It DO IT!
*ahem*

It was a complete revelation while reading Born Confused and it would be awesome if there were more books/movies etc that addressed things like that (I'd second the recommendation for East is East which I vaguely remember liking).

if his own terms include choosing Zachary Levi, then so be it.
I'll have to check that movie out. I don't know enough to comment on Zachary Levi's background but as it often the case that mixed race kids often appear to be a completely different race to that of either of their parents I can handwave that casting.

force them to marry someone South Asian WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE HOT AND AWESOME AND PERFECT AND HOW IS THAT ACTUALLY A CONFLICT?

Just in the "but I didn't get to choose" way? Yeah, not really a conflict. I don't really know as arranged marriage only gets brought up as a joke by my dad when I'm taking too long to get over an (always white) ex-boyfriend and he is sick of me moping. He married a white girl and didn't go for the arranged marriage. He is happy about that choice, but I think he has a lot of guilt about the knock-on effect of that decision on his younger sisters.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
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do it Do it Do It DO IT!
*ahem*

Heh.

I don't know enough to comment on Zachary Levi's background
You should watch Chuck!

He married a white girl and didn't go for the arranged marriage. He is happy about that choice, but I think he has a lot of guilt about the knock-on effect of that decision on his younger sisters.
Oh, you should definitely check out this movie then. There's a bit of that in there, the fact that Ray's dad made an unorthodox decision and, while he is personally happy, he feels guilty about defying his parents and doesn't want his son to experience any of the bad things that go with marrying someone of another culture.
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From:duchessdogberry
Date:July 11th, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
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Maybe I really should write my experience, because who the fuck else is going to?

YES. GO DO THAT.

Sounds like you fell in about the same level of "I like it but I do have some issues" about the movie as I did.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I liked it, but it wasn't stellar, even by cinematic standards (for instance, the kid who played the young Ray was kind of awful). This is Mahmood's first feature, so it's cute that it's not AMAZING, but that doesn't mean I have to think it's amazing just because it's an independent film.
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From:schnappycat
Date:July 11th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
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So funny you mention Sarah Shahi because I just clicked off this page:
http://celebrity-babies.com/2009/07/10/sarah-shahi-switches-into-mom-mode/

Who knew she is married to the guy from Reba? LOL! Sorry, Sunil.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
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CURSES!
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From:musesfool
Date:July 11th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
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I highly recommend "Life" and not just because Sarah Shahi is hot and badass in it. Plus, awesome music. And it's a closed canon, so it won't break your heart.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
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Closed canon is nice. I am moving it up in my mental queue, although there are a few ongoing cable shows I am interested in as well.
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From:the_narration
Date:July 11th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
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"Life" is quite an enjoyable TV show. I hav enot seen all of the second season. I should really do so.


So... just out of curiousity, what decision does the protagonist of the film make?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
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Dude, what do you think? (No, seriously, it's completely predictable for this type of movie.)
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From:squaringkarma
Date:July 11th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
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Sarah Shahi IS hot. I should get back to watching the second half of the second season of Life.
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From:bigboobedcanuck
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
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Huh. I'm really stuck on Zachary Levi playing half-Indian. I mean, I do have friends who are half but look more Greek or Italian. When I first met one girl and she said her dad was Indian and her last name was Pimenta, she nearly fell off her chair when I asked if he was Goan. She wasn't used to white people knowing such things, heh.

Zach is just so...white and Jewish. Not that there's anything wrong with that, obviously. It's just too bad they couldn't get someone who actually was Indian.

Have you seen Touch of Pink? It's gay, so not exactly your life, but similar themes. Also Bollywood/Hollywood, which is all about marriage pressure, etc. But as the title suggests, it is a play on Bollywood movies. Just a couple of Canadian movies you might not have heard of. :)

Bollywood is not my life.

Wait, you don't burst into song with strangers and perform big dance numbers? WAY TO DISAPPOINT.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry to shatter your illusions!

I haven't heard of either of those movies (Canadian!), but thanks! Hey, the first one has Brian George, who plays the dad in this movie, and the second one has Jessica Paré, who was very pretty in Jack and Bobby.
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From:lembeau
Date:July 11th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
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You haven't seen Life? *GASPS* I MAY HAVE TO DEFRIEND YOU. WHICH WOULD LEAD TO THE SHORTEST FRIENDING IN LJ HISTORY. (SHE EVEN SPEAKS FARSI IN AN EPISODE. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?) I really love her, she's awesome.

Wait, wait, Pakastani's can be bartenders? And they can look like Zachary Levi? Damn, I knew I should've held out a little longer. Hmmm, I don't know if I can believe this movie and that it is accurate in it's portrayal of me. That's even before you mentioned that the lead is Zachary Levi. (Yeah, I get the whole breaking down stereotypes and name recognition, but still!) I'll be putting this in my queue of things to watch.

but as someone who's all brown and mainly attracted to white girls despite his parents' wanting him to marry a brown one

Oh man, reverse the genders in that sentence and that was me. Umm, you and I will have long talks about this, won't we? You know what my solution to that was? A convert. It so would've worked too! But sadly, not meant to be. (This makes me sound like I'm unhappy with my dude, doesn't it? I'm pretty sure I'm not!) (Side note: Fiancee makes me cringe so I refer to him as Dude.)

For instance, when he complains to his dad about being set up with a "random girl," his dad exlaims, "What 'random'? She's your uncle's best friend in medical school's classmate's daughter!" SERIOUSLY THAT IS HOW IT WORKS.

OMG, IT DOES TOO, I AM PROOF. Dude is my mom's med school roommate's son. For realz, yo. And he's from the motherland. So I'm looking forward to all of those little cultural mishaps that I KNOW are coming. And when I post about them, you are not allowed to laugh.

Shades of Ray tells the story of a South Asian who's allowed to date white folk until their parents force them to marry someone South Asian

Seriously, does this happen? Or have I been living under a rock? I mean, I know of all the SA kids that go out and date without ever telling their parents, but I haven't ever come across anyone who had their parents blessings to sow their wild oats until it was time to get down to business. Just the thought of that is so foreign to me.

No one tells the story of the guy who was never allowed to date anyone, who wasn't even allowed to go to prom, who couldn't even date in college because he didn't want to be forced to lie his parents

That's because they are still waiting for us to write it.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
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You haven't seen Life? *GASPS* I MAY HAVE TO DEFRIEND YOU. WHICH WOULD LEAD TO THE SHORTEST FRIENDING IN LJ HISTORY.
OH NOES.

Wait, wait, Pakastani's can be bartenders?
Oh, he doesn't tell his dad about that, believe you me.

Oh man, reverse the genders in that sentence and that was me. Umm, you and I will have long talks about this, won't we?
I thiiiiiink we will!

You know what my solution to that was? A convert. It so would've worked too! But sadly, not meant to be. (This makes me sound like I'm unhappy with my dude, doesn't it? I'm pretty sure I'm not!)
What's a convert? As in, religiously? He's still white? And it didn't work? But what about the dude? I'm very confused now.

(Side note: Fiancee makes me cringe so I refer to him as Dude.)
Hee.

Dude is my mom's med school roommate's son. For realz, yo.
Ha ha ha ha! Wow.

And he's from the motherland. So I'm looking forward to all of those little cultural mishaps that I KNOW are coming. And when I post about them, you are not allowed to laugh.
Um, I totally will. By the way. Because I want to know how you deal with getting someone from the husband factory.

Seriously, does this happen? Or have I been living under a rock? I mean, I know of all the SA kids that go out and date without ever telling their parents, but I haven't ever come across anyone who had their parents blessings to sow their wild oats until it was time to get down to business. Just the thought of that is so foreign to me.
I KNOW! Okay, my friend Ravi dated and married a white girl, but I remember his parents were more okay with the dating than the marrying. I don't really know any other Indians whose parents told them to go ahead and date whomever they wanted.

That's because they are still waiting for us to write it.
Well, dammit.
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[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 11th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, he wanted to touch on the biracial experience, which isn't My Experience, but is good for people like you!

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