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Ash's Mistress bombs in the UK
Arthur J Pais | April 26, 2006 14:37 IST
'Aishwarya Rai -- is there a wishier, washier, wimpier actor anywhere in the known universe?,' asked The Guardian's influential critic Peter Bradshaw, giving Mistress Of Spices a single star (out of a maximum five) in the reputed London daily newspaper.
The film, already nicknamed by many critics as 'Mistress Without Spices' has bombed unceremoniously in the United Kingdom.
It may end its run in just about three weeks. It opened with a paltry $150,000 on just about 30 screens. On the other hand, the Akshay Kumar film Humko Deewana Kar Gaye grossed about $300,000 in its second weekend across the country.
'Rai wafts and simpers through yet another film, this one a sub-magic-realist romance: she plays the mystical proprietress of a spice store in San Francisco, sorting out customers' emotional problems with her sensuous wares,' Bradshaw continued. 'Ooooooh! Sort of like Juliette Binoche in Chocolat, only more annoying.'
Slapped with some of the most savage reviews in recent months, Mistress Of Spices, directed by first-timer Paul Mayeda Berges who co-wrote it with his wife Gurinder Chadha, has become one of the major disappointments of the season.
Even the mild online reviewer for the BBC could not give the film, which cost about $3 million, a good review. But The Daily Telegraph called the film a sweet old fashioned romance.
'Despite its colourful eastern palette and amiable performances from Bollywood starlet Aishwarya Rai and American hunk Dylan McDermott,' wrote the BBC Online's Jaspeet Pandohar, 'the drama is as bland as a cucumber sandwich.'
In 2004, Ash's collaboration with Chadha and her husband, Bride & Prejudice, directed by the former, had opened to No 1 in the UK on about 370 screens, making over $3 million. Though it received mixed reviews, it became an audience favourite earning about $11 million in the final reckoning. But unlike Bride, the new Rai film played mostly in the desi film circuit.
The new film, based on a bestseller of the same name by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, opens in India and the US on Friday. It is getting a low key release, and Rai hasn't done any publicity for it.
Revolving around a woman who could lose her magical healing powers if she fell in love, the film premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival where most major critics ignored it. In fact, the only publicity it received was from the liberal display of startlet and Salman Rushdie spouse Padma Lakshmi's bosom at the pre-release party. Photographs of her cleavage were carried by many magazines and newspapers, mentioning that she has a brief role in the film.