The latest Bollywood offering in the US, 99, got a terrific review in the New York Times which saw in it "a refreshing sign that commercial Indian cinema has room in its big tent for more than one kind of storytelling".
"Bollywood loves a hybrid, so there's nothing necessarily unusual about a comedy-adventure-romance-musical," the influential US daily says in a review titled "Bollywood Without the Song and Dance".
"But 99 with bits of all those elements, mixes them up in a way that has more in common with American indies (division: hipster) than with standard Hindi-movie fare," it says.
Directed by the first-time feature filmmakers Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, 99 favours a kind of naturalism, both in its comedy, which is character-based rather than slapstick, and in its look, the Times says of the film starring Boman Irani, Mahesh Manjrekar and Vinod Khanna.
The cinematographer, Rajeev Ravi, finds a nice balance between gritty realism and lush romanticism, the Times says.
"There's a jaunty, tango-y score and a montage set to a song, but as for that great Bollywood signifier, the song-and-dance sequence, 99 basically just says no," it says.
Calling it "unusual but not unheard of", it notes, "We glimpse the real thing only briefly: on a film set where a dance routine is being rehearsed, and during the end credits."
"Funny, assured and just inventive enough, 99 is a refreshing sign that commercial Indian cinema has room in its big tent for more than one kind of storytelling," the Times said.