| Country singer Willie Nelson and actor Jessica Simpson, who star in the film, at its Hollywood premiere. (AFP file picture)
Washington, Aug. 6: Yet another Indian American icon will be launched if The Dukes of Hazzard, which featured on 5,000 celluloid screens across North America this weekend, grosses an expected opening revenue of $25-30 million and is number one among new releases at the box office.
The film, which is expected to be a big draw among teenagers and Americans looking for nostalgia, is directed by Chicago-born Jayant Jambulingam Chandrasekhar, known now as Jay Chandrasekhar.
It is based on the adventures of three cousins, Bo, Luke and Daisy Duke, whose family land is confiscated by the corrupt Boss Hogg, commissioner of Hazzard county in Georgia, on the pretext that their uncle Jesse was violating prohibition and doing a thriving business in moon shining.
The three cousins are alert to a bigger conspiracy of a land grab by Boss Hogg to take away land from Hazzard’s residents and use it for mining.
The Dukes’ adventures to defeat the boss were hugely popular in America as a television series, also called The Dukes Of Hazzard, which ran from 1979 to ’85 and were part of American pop culture of that time.
The Dukes Of Hazzard is Chandrasekhar’s fourth film. But his previous ventures were small and little known.
His latest film, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the current No. 3 on the box office chart in America, is distributed by Warner Brothers.
Conventional film critics and others obsessed with ideas of filmmaking as an art within a set structure have come down heavily on Chandrasekhar’s effort.
John Hartl, film critic of MSNBC, wrote: “When a movie is as gleefully stupid as The Dukes of Hazzard, it is practically critic-proof. When you aim so low, and consistently hit your mark, what is (there) to criticise'”
Others, especially devotees of the 1980s TV series, are outraged by the making of the film. “How could the makers of the new motion picture version of the Dukes have toyed so liberally with the Southern-fried action-adventure show'
“If you expected to see the Dukes characters you grew to love played faithfully by the stars picked to appear in this movie, you will be wholeheartedly disappointed,” wrote Brian Krasman, editor of The Daily News of Pennsylvania.
Sreenath Sreenivasan, professor of new media at Columbia University in New York, last night sent out an email to South Asian journalists in North America to say: “I plan not to see this movie in order to preserve my pristine memories of that TV show’s silliness.”
But neither sentiment nor discretion is expected to deter filmgoers from lapping up the redneck humour, car chases of the kind that Hollywood legends are made of and the skimpy clothes of Daisy Duke, over which Chandrasekhar admits to have fantasised and used a “lot of lotion” in “the throes of (his) puberty”.