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South Asian Americans Drawn Broad in Hiding Divya

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Hiding Divya
Directed by Rehana Mirza
Net Effect Media
Opens August 20
Big Cinemas Manhattan
Living in suburban New Jersey, Indian matriarch Divya (Madhur Jaffrey) suffers from what's never actually described as severe bipolar disorder, a condition that, years before, drove away both her mainland husband and rebellious daughter, Linny (Pooja Kumar, a former Miss USA India), who then got knocked up as a teenager. Upon the death of her American stepdad, "Uncle John," the still-cynical Linny begrudgingly returns home with her now-16-year-old daughter, Jia (Madelaine Massey), the three generations of women all trying to cope with—and, as the film's title spells out, ignore—Divya's increasingly erratic behavior. At inopportune moments, Grandma's mood pinballs between catatonic and hysterical, or she sits in a parked car all night, her Bollywood-fantasy hallucinations inexplicably appearing to us in the rear-view mirror. Authorities are beckoned, neighbors turn up their noses, tough love is applied, and the two younger ladies are clumsily pursued by romantic suitors. Though the leads make for a believable family unit, the performances in writer-director Rehana Mirza's thin-skinned, no-frills drama unevenly range from functional to histrionic. Mirza claims her film specifically explores the stigma of mental illness within the South Asian community, but her script is so broad that only the cast's complexions and character names give that away.
 
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