‘Four Samosas’ Review – A Love Letter To Indian Culture And Wes Anderson, In An Almost Distracting Fashion

Ravi Kapoor’s Four Samosas opens with an “academy ratio” framing, a saturated color scheme, and humor bordering on whimsy as the four over-disguised protagonists start running from the grocery store where they just executed their heist. You realize Kapoor’s love for Wes Anderson is almost infectious. Interestingly, his love for Indian culture and Bollywood coexist in a Wes Anderson homage movie that feels like a passionate DIY project. To a certain extent, it is.


Vinny (Venk Potula), a wannabe rapper (currently working at a saree store in Little India), is shocked to learn that his ex-girlfriend has been engaged to a rich snob (Karan Soni) and plans to steal her dowry from her father’s supermarket. To that end, he teams up with his best friend Zak (Nirvan Patnaik), the Chaat salesman and avid Bollywood lover, and Anjali (Sharmita Bhattacharya), who, as the movie proclaims, is the “under-over achiever,” as she is the sole editor and writer of The Little India Magazine. Her mind is filled with elaborate plans of breaking in and executing heists resembling the moments of Mission Impossible or the Ocean’s movies depicted in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio with her voice-over narration, but she tags along with the plan because of her burgeoning attraction to Zak. Their fourth member finally joins them once Anjali manages to photograph the safe inside Ajay Juneja’s (Rina’s father and owner of the supermarket) office. This fourth member, Paru (Sonal Shah), is a malcontent engineer who has been raised her entire life to follow the rat race to get into IIT (the Indian Institute of Technology). Her single-minded dedication towards studying and being completely immersed in this ridiculous rat race makes her an avid gorger of snacks but not much of a safecracker.

Four Samosas as a story or framework for putting its characters through a specific ringer isn’t interesting beyond a superficial degree. Ravi Kapoor is more interested in exploring cultural specificity via broad strokes and humor. Paru’s obsession with IIT is a broadly humorous tic from an American context, but from an Indian context, it is highly relatable for anyone remotely familiar with the engineering grind. Similarly, when Vinny’s mother is confused about which relative has a bad valve and needs an operation (“Kalyani Aunty or the Bangalore Aunty?”), Vinny getting angry and pushing a signboard or overturning a chair only to come back and straighten it is a specific but hilarious gag. What is immensely satisfying and fascinating are the motivations of these characters. Vinny’s altruistic motivation for stealing the dowry is the flimsy layer beneath his jealous streak about winning back his ex-girlfriend by breaking off their marriage. For example, selling the dowry to pay for his aunt’s operation, ensuring Zayk can fulfill his dreams of going to Bollywood, and Paru finally obtaining a green card. The presence of a local theatre group enacting the rise of King Ashoka always appears as a visual gag in the background until director Ravi Kapoor morphs that into a Chekov’s gun.


There is a severe sense of slackerdom and a lackadaisical attitude permeating through every frame, as characters within this pastel-colored, perfectly symmetrical world are on the lookout for their way of life, an alternative to sitting around and musing about their lives and the past. Unfortunately, that slacker vibe extends to the film itself, which slowly starts to run out of steam by the time the movie deals with the heist part of the plot. It would be foolhardy to expect this heist movie to have enough thrills and dynamic set pieces, but what Ravi Kapoor’s Four Samosas lack is a discerning sense of tension and stakes. Perhaps that is lost in the subversion of said stakes, as the story itself shows how lackadaisical each of these characters truly is, and the plot mechanics aren’t remotely important, but the spinning of the wheels of the movie in its second act is pretty hard to ignore. The presence of another rap group titled Aisetra (“Artesia” spelled backward) acts as both visual gags as well as an Indian-specific version of the Jay and Silent bob characters in “Clerks” or “Mallrats.” This and the resulting “rap battle” in the second act feel like quirky add-ons in an already meandering traversal of Artesia. These characters’ motivations and final arcs are simple, almost paper-thin in retrospect. The story finally delves into the creation of Vinny and his heist crew, which becomes an impromptu rap group and performs at a function that is also suitably low-stakes.

Ravi Kapoor’s Four Samosas has a dollop of charm and infectious love for its influences and filmmaking. Four Samosas is the perfect “Wes Anderson” homage, from the red jackets worn by the crew, reminiscent of Bottle Rocket, to shades of Royal Tenenbaums within the cinematography and the production design as well. The infectious joy and sense of wonder in making a movie or even being part of the movie should affect you as an audience member, even though the humor could only elicit the barest of chuckles. It is still inoffensive, with broad strokes of jocularity and enough cultural exploration to tide you over through its 80-minute runtime.


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Amartya Acharya
Amartya Acharya
Amartya is a true cinephile who loves to explore the horizons of films and literature. He loves to write about them when not getting overwhelmed.

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