IANS Review: ‘Spin’: Disney’s first attempt at a crossover film

Duration: 94 minutes

Director: Manjari Makijany
Cast: Avantika, Abhay Deol, Meera Syal, Aryan Simhadri, Michela Luci, Anna Cathcart, Kerri Medders, Agam Darshi, Kyana Teresa, Michael Bishop and Jahbril Cook
Rating: ***

By Troy Ribeiro

Mumbai (IANS) The first frame of the film tilts up to the signage, ‘Spirit of India’, and next we see 15-year-old Rhea scrolling through a playlist, selecting an apt music befitting the ambience of her family’s restaurant, which is run by her widower father Arvind (Abhay Deol).

The film then transports you into the lives of this small Indian family who are now settled in America running this speciality restaurant. Arvind is ably assisted by his mother-in-law Asha (Meera Sayal) and teenaged children — daughter Rhea (Avantika) and younger son Rohan (Aryan Simhadri).

While Rhea is very enthusiastic about whatever she does — be it her studies, school projects or work in the restaurant, her grandmother and teacher think that she is too serious a teenager. “She is young, she should be enjoying life,” they tell Arvind.

Unbeknownst to Arvind, Rhea is drawn to Max (Michael Bishop), a new schoolmate who is an amateur DJ. He teaches her how to create new music mixes because she tells him, “I want to up my game for my restaurant playlist, keep it fresh and keep the guests entertained.”

Soon, Rhea is sucked into the world of music and her life becomes a struggle. How she juggles with her new-found love for music without abandoning her commitment to her family forms the crux of the narrative.

Although the plot is not particularly novel, writers Josh A. Cagan and Carley Steiner’s script, sans any fantasy elements, maintains the typical Disney tropes — a single father bringing up his kids, savvy life lessons, and diversity.

This film is not about romance, but about how kids are just beginning to discover their true selves.

The narrative does pack in a lot of Indian sensibilities, Hindi film music and a jig by Asha. Inspired by Holi, Rhea, together with her friends, organises a fundraiser called ‘Festival of Colour’, this juxtaposition of the festival to a fundraiser seems a forced attempt to make the content appeal to Indians.

Avantika, who looks like a younger version of Radhika Apte, is a natural on screen. She effortlessly slips into Rhea’s skin. Abhay Deol as Arvind and Meera Syal as Ashaji deliver what is expected of them. Anna Cathcart, Jahbril Cook and Kerri Medders as Rhea’s friends offer a cool and non-fussed performance. Michael Bishop as Max is subtle and subdued.

Overall, the film boasts of a decent production quality and appears to be Disney’s first attempt at a crossover film.

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