American Idol, step aside – “ at least for the singers showcasing their talents in the three-day New Jersey-based, Bollywood-inspired Desi Idol competition, sponsored by local butcher company Loins of Punjab. The finalists competing for the $25,000 prize represent the South Asian diaspora through a delightfully eclectic cross-section of would-be superstars: There’s high school over-achiever Preeti Patel, whose entire over-bearing family accompanies her, proudly wearing “Preeti Patel #1” t-shirts; actress Sania Rahman, who has big Bollywood dreams despite not speaking a word of Hindi; foul-mouthed bhangra rapper Turbinotorious BDG, together with his gay lover/backup singer; recently down-sized middle-aged businessman with the unfortunate name Saddam Hussein; awkward Vikram Tejwani (played by director Acharya himself), obsessed with both statistics and Amitabh Bachchan; white Jewish yoga/jogging enthusiastic and lover of all things Indian, Josh Cohen; and ruthless philanthropist Mrs. Rrita Kapoor, willing to use uncharitable means to win the competition so that she can donate the prize money to show up her rival, Bubbles Sabharwal. Will Mrs. Kapoor’s scheming lead her to claim the grand prize? Will Preeti Patel make her family proud and emerge as #1? Does a non-desi like Josh Cohen stand any chance at all?
Following the familiar trajectory of singing competition shows, but with a deadpan humor perfectly fitting its small-town, New Jersey hotel conference room setting, Loins of Punjab Presents is a sly, guilty pleasure, sending up the kitsch shared by both Bollywood and American Idol, where celebrity dreams can be just one catchy performance away.