When it comes to captivating an audience, Trinidad & Tobago soca singer Machel Montano is no slouch. He sings, dances and totally delivers an energizing, fully-loaded infusion of revelry every time he takes the stage.
But how does all that talent translate to celluloid when the entertainer tests his mettle at acting?
Movie-goers here will know in August when his film “Bazodee” opens.
Initially, the film was to be titled “Triniwood,” a geographical reference to Bollywood films focuses on Indian characters and topics popularized with association to Hollywood, the film capital of the world.
It debuted last fall at the T&T Film Festival in his homeland and fans and patriots here are anxious to see Montano in action as well as capitalize on the truckloads of imagery depicting the beauty of the twin islands.
Guaranteed the 90-minute love story will feature the entertainer at his best. Afterall, set during carnival, music and pageantry are integrated into the storyline. In case, the name rings with unfamiliarity “Bazodee” could be interpreted to mean hypnotic infatuation. For those who have been there and done that, it is the kind of trance lovers often experience when they are in love.
And although entrancing at times, unfortunately when that shared emotion conflicts with cultural norms and expectations ethnicity and social standing in the community often diminish the bliss. This is the dilemma Montano must portray as lead Lee de Leon with British-born/Sri-Lankan actress Natalie Perera.
Academy award winner Denzel Washington broached a similar character starring in “Mississippi Masala” in 1991.
Directed by six-time Emmy nominee, American Todd Kessler, the love story unfolds when a rich Indian named Anita Panchouri becomes enamored with a dreadlocked singer who aspires to becoming a sensation playing the ukulele.
That Anita is already engaged to (Staz Nair) a rich, culturally-compatible man from England adds intrigue to the love story.
Although there are more than a few family resistance to the union, Ram Panchouri (Kabir Bedi) provides the most onscreen dissension. Already a household name from television roles he portrays in TT, the father-figure gets a chunk of time and dialogue to make familiar audiences reeling with identity.
Race and class are not at the heart of the script, however, the dual nationality and stark differences gnaw at sensibilities often replayed in Indo-Caribbean, Chinese-Caribbean, African-Caribbean and Caucasian-Caribbean households.
They talk with differing accents, flaunt variance in hair textures and seemingly rooted from two different worlds in the forbidden love story but like the real world find commonalities that defy all impediments.
Like Drupatee’s “Roll Up The Tassa” hit recording of 1989, this chutney spotlight is bound to break new ground for TT culture.
And with carnival season forming a backdrop, the colorful, vibrant, exciting and musical tale will provide a nice summer transition to the annual Labor Day revelry in Brooklyn.