Spin Review: Avantika Vandanapu and Abhay Deol's Disney teen film is unequivocally indulgent in its Indianess
Spin Cast: Avantika Vandnapu, Abhay Deol, Meera Syal, Anna Cathcart
Spin Director: Manjari Makijany
Streaming Platform: Disney+ Hostar Premium
Spin Stars: 3/5
Growing up with the Hannah Montanas and Alex Russos of the world, taking over my television screen, there was a certain relatability to the fact that these Disney shows and movies were about, well, teenagers. However, that's where the connecting factor stops. This got me thinking about how there aren't that many Indian movies that cater to an average Indian teenage girl, her life and her problems, a genre well established and overdone in the West. The latest example I could think of goes as far as Gippi in 2013.
Enter Spin! Yes, while the lead protagonist is an Indian-American but the indulgent Indianess leaves you with a vibrant smile, almost like a home away from home. To give you some context when it comes to the storyline, Spin weaves the tale of Rhea (Avantika Vandanapu), whose life revolves around her loving family, close friends and juggling between waitressing at her dad Arvind's (Abhay Deol) forever crowded Indian restaurant and her academic life, which includes being a part of the after-school coding club. Rhea's gift, which she inherited from her late mother, is her impeccable taste in music while making catchy mixtapes.
After her meet-cute with her classmate DJ Max (Michael Bishop), where they two develop feelings for each other, Rhea taps into her DJ-ing skills, finding herself a reignited dream for producing remixes. However, her innocent adoration for her caring father always triumphs over everything else. Nevertheless, with the support of her buddies and just the right desi tunes to mix it up a notch, we're taken on a journey of discovering one's passion. Spin isn't trying to be inspirational in any way, but more appreciative of a teen's struggles and her pursuit for achieving goals.
Bringing a more introspective take into Rhea's mindset is Avantika with her delightful performance, shining brightest when she's behind the DJ stand. There's subtle yet crisp energy she embodies which isn't over the top but rather more realistic. I'd never really envisioned Abhay as a Disney dad but now that it's here, I'm all for it! Deol manages to encapture Arvind's traditional values wrapped inside his modernity. I mean, no matter how hip Arvind thinks he is, he'll still ground Rhea for two months! Avantika and Abhay's camaraderie is also a highlight in this coming-of-age film as they're both battling grief while trying their best to move on.
However, it's Meera Syal as Rhea's mom who takes the jalebi and eats it too thanks to her modern family views and effervescent aura. Besides being the bridge between Rhea's growing years and Arvind's rigid persona interlaced with the adorable father-daughter duo's misguided miscommunication, the eldest one strikes the perfect balance into this nuclear family and that's thanks to Meera's infectious charm to own any scene she's in. A particularly emotional sequence between Meera and Avantika is sure to get a few happy tears out of the coldest of hearts.
Even Aryan Simhadri as Rhea's brother Rohan provides some considerable laughs. As Max, Michael plays the ideal love interest with not-so-good intentions while Anna Cathcart, Kerri Medder and Jahbril Cook, playing Devi's close friends add the necessary sass and spunk. Quite honestly, I'd watch anything Anna is in!
What's interesting is how this typically teenage movie isn't stereotypical of the students. In the Spin universe, the popular 'influencer' kids can be friends with coding club teenagers, There also isn't an obvious focus on having South Asian representation as a storyline arc but rather it seamlessly flows through the music, especially in the final track DJ Rhea produces, which has an emotional touch that will have you rooting for her. Even the production design, especially Arvind's restaurant is spectacularly electric, just the way it should be.
Between fights over doughnuts or jalebis (Team Jalebi for life!) and even celebrating Holi, Spin gives us a Disney movie that is unequivocally indulgent in its Indianess.