title taken from "Memory" by Machel Montano and Tarrus Riley
Bazodee Movie Review
Unless you are new to Dyschick.com, you know that I am a fan of all things soca. I actually created my blog to encourage people to experience the spirit and music of Carnival. In college, I took a course on “Trinidad Carnival, Culture, and History” at the University of the West Indies, which included playing j’ouvert with rapso band 3 Canal and jumping up in Peter Minshall’s mas band on Carnival Tuesday. After only 5 months, I fell in love with Trinidadian culture so I was ecstatic to see it presented on the big screen.
On July 28th, the much-anticipated film Bazodee premiered at The PlayStation Theater in Manhattan. Set in Trinidad during Carnival, Bazodee is a story of a young woman, Anita Ponchouri (played by British actress Natalie Perera) who is due to marry the son of a wealthy London businessman but finds herself in an emotional upheaval when she meets a down-on-his-luck musician played by Trinidadian soca superstar, Machel Montano. The story explores Anita’s internal conflict between duty and passion. The musical dramedey (thanks for the term Natalie) also showcases West Indian culture and soca music.
Director Todd Kessler wanted to be sure that the film was authentic to the culture and to the vision of Barbadian writer Claire Ince and Trinbagonian producer Ancil McKain. The husband and wife team always wanted to tell this love story and they knew who to call to not only provide the soundtrack, but to be the film's male lead. Having no prior acting experience, Machel agreed to star in the film that would feature his music because he felt a connection to his character Lee de Leon, who leaves Trinidad to perform in London, but returns home dejected until his creativity is reawakened by love.
The film is not exactly a thriller. You know how rom-coms end. What you might not expect is that Machel is actually well suited to play a romantic lead. The deep Trini voice, the locs, and those sultry gazes when he pleads for Anita to call him after a party all confirm that the casting was spot on. Although Natalie admits that she was only somewhat familiar with Machel's music prior to being cast as his love interest, she is officially a socaholic. Trinidadian audiences will no doubt notice her British accent, but you will forgive her when you see her wine up like a true Indian Gyal. After all, she is an island girl as she has heritage from Sri Lanka.
When asked what they think will happen when people see this film, Machel replied that he hopes "that this will open up governments and corporate people of the Caribbean to support more artistes," since this film offered the opportunity for local talent to reach a wider audience. The leads are flanked by calypso artiste Rembunction and radio host Cindy F. Daniel who brilliantly play supporting roles and offer comic relief. Todd is most hopeful that people will find the film unique. He worked to ensure that this would NOT be a Bollywood film, but a Caribbean musical.
For me, I suspect that this film will appeal to West Indians abroad. I found myself waxing nostalgic throughout the film. I could feel the warm sand when the lead characters head to Pigeon Point, I remembered dancing in the streets at daybreak when I saw the j'ouvert scene, and I wanted to jump up in a fete when I watched Lee de Leon's performance. Judging from the cheers and applause during the premiere, I think other West Indians will be able to relate to Bazodee and see themselves in the film.
Bazodee will be in theaters on Friday, August 5th and will no doubt have you dancing in the aisles or at least rocking in your seat. Get your tickets, put on your dancing shoes, and leh we go!
Check out Machel's video for his new song "I Forget"