Four Samosas is the definition of a comedy of errors. It’s a film where basically all of its main characters are idiots and continuously find themselves in worse and worse situations because of their incompetence. Thankfully, the people trying to stop them are also completely incompetent, so it works out.
Four Samosas is a film that I didn’t have a lot of expectations going into it, but it turned out to be one of the biggest surprises for me at the Tribeca Film Festival. Not only did I enjoy what I was watching, but I was having a great time with it. There’s just enough heart to endear you to its cast of idiots as they bumble their way from one bad situation to another. They commit to their stupidity, and I can’t help but appreciate it.
Director: Ravi Kapoor
Release Date: June 10, 2022 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Vinny (Venk Potula) is a wanna-be rapper with absolutely zero motivation and is in a bit of a funk. He just found out that his ex-girlfriend is engaged and she makes it clear to Vinny that it’s because he never fought for her and sabotaged himself by constantly putting himself down. Bitter about this, he concocts a scheme with some of his local friends to rob his ex’s dad, who owns a supermarket and allegedly has illegal diamonds stored in a safe there. With them, Vinny can make all of his friend’s dreams come true, while also sticking it to his ex and her fiance. But is that really what he wants? And can he and his friends even figure out how to plan a heist?
Despite being a fairly down-to-earth comedy, Four Samosas has a certain style to it. The film is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio and is shot akin to a Wes Anderson film. Virtually every shot is static and is used to drive home a lot of the comedy within each scene. There’s sort of a classic charm to the comedy, as well, since it primarily comes from the cinematography. Sure, there’s comedy purely from the character’s personalities and the weird situations they find themselves in, but most of it feels like comedy that can only be done through the language of film.
The performances are all solid too, though special mention needs to be given to the women. The men all do a fine enough job, but they tend to blend into each other and don’t quite offer unique interactions. Anjali (Sharamita Bhattacharya) is a manic writer who comes up with these cartoonish mile-a-minute ideas that just boggle anyone who tries to follow her. Paru (Sonal Shah) is a bitter engineer who has a gluttonous sweet tooth and will continuously berate anyone who doubts her non-existent skills. These two deliver the most laughs and their unique quirks offer up the most entertaining comedic scenarios.
The film isn’t all just laughs though as the film has a decent amount of complexity given its fairly simple premise. The entire heist serves as a metaphor for Vinny’s own inadequacies, trying to prove to himself that he is successful. Successful how? Take your pick. The film offers up a lot of ways to interpret the events of the heist, whether it be as a metaphor for Vinny proving himself better than his ex’s fiance, showing he’s worthy enough for her love, that he doesn’t need love as long as he has his friends, or that he can actually accomplish something he sets his mind to. The final narration builds on this saying that all of these ideas are correct and it’s up to you to figure out which one has the most meaning to you as a viewer.
I do think that there are some elements of the film that go underutilized. Vinny clearly has a bad relationship with his father, but outside of two scenes, it doesn’t go anywhere. There’s also a talent show that was introduced at the very beginning of the film that serves as the climax, but never really gets developed for the majority of the film. The heist and the ensuing chaos after it takes up the bulk of the film and is probably where the focus is rightfully directed at, so making the climax a talent show deflates the resolution. The thematic elements that took place in those other scenes could have been easily absorbed into the heist plot.
Even so, I love how the movie doesn’t shy away from this being the most pathetic heist in existence. Vinny’s crew somehow bumbles their way into success, only to find themselves in even more trouble, yet fail so hard at trying to get away scot-free that even the person they stole from finds them too pathetic to really punish. Also, I never thought I would see a heist manage to put a Bollywood dance number into the plan, but it works really well and is really damn funny.
That’s Four Samosas at the end of the day: really damn funny. Its cinematography, performances, humor, and themes all work harmoniously with each other to make a comedy that I can’t find many faults in. Sure, some scenes are definitely unnecessary, but they don’t actively detract from what makes the core of the movie good. It’s a humble movie with a small scope, but sometimes you need to see the smaller comedies to appreciate that humor comes in all shapes and sizes and from all kinds of different cultures.