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Aishwarya's Mistress of Spices bombs in UK

Bollywood starlet Aishwarya Rai's latest international flick bagged poor response by audience and critics alike, in Britain.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 11:19 IST

Nasty reviews and poor collections have marked the British release of Mistress of Spices, Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai's latest international film.

"Is there a wishier, washier, wimpier actor anywhere in the known universe?" asks Peter Bradshaw, the well-known critic of The Guardian, referring to Aishwarya, after the film opened to a lukewarm response in the largely Indian areas of Britain.

The $3 million film, co-scripted by Gurinder Chadha ( director of Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice) and her husband Paul Mayeda Berges, opened on 30 screens across the country and grossed a mere $150,000 over the weekend.

Based on an eponymous book by India-born, US-based author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the film has Aishwarya playing, in Bradshaw's words - a mystical proprietress of a spice store in San Francisco, sorting out customers' emotional problems with her sensuous wares.

"Ooooooh! Sort of like Juliette Binoche in Chocolat, only more annoying, if that's possible, which sadly it is. She gets it on with a hunky customer (Dylan McDermott) for one coyly photographed night of passion - her very first, we can only assume. Whatever else has changed afterwards, her lip-gloss is shimmeringly intact," wrote Bradshaw.

The film was also panned by on variety.com by critic Derek Elley, who called it 'beautiful but lifeless, poetic but un-elevated' and said it was 'a brave but flawed attempt at that most unforgiving of contemporary genres, magical realism.'

"There's beauty here but no real sensuality," he wrote. "And on a human level, not much screen chemistry between Rai and McDermott, each of whom parade their physical wares but fail to connect."

BBC Online was marginally charitable. It's critic, Jaspeet Pandohar, wrote - "Despite its colourful eastern palette and amiable performances from Bollywood starlet Aishwarya Rai and American hunk Dylan McDermott, the drama is as bland as a cucumber sandwich."

"Ultimately it's the poor choice of subject material that fails to impress, rather than the lifeless direction," he added.

The film is scheduled to release in India on April 28.

First Published: Apr 27, 2006 11:19 IST