Posts Tagged Ali Fazal

For here or to go? Movie Review

Not only do we humans get used to an easier life with some comforts, but when we begin to get settled in a place where we begin to build our career in our youth and make friends and build aspirations then we’re simultaneously not planning an alternate lifestyle. However, students who come to study in the US are stuck in a limbo of uncertainty for years, and among them are over a million young people from India. Pulled between a sense of cultural displacement, strong familial ties back home and climbing the career ladder of success in the US, their dreams are just beginning to come into a sharper focus as they enter the world of work, after completion of their studies. 

The Impermanence of Being an H-1B Immigrant

When the recession hit in 2008, young Vivek Pandit (Ali Fazal) with brilliant ideas for a tech startup, encountered problems with his visa renewal. Faced with the prospect of going home, his friends advise him that If the job is over then they have to be ready to leave. Life in a different society will call for different priorities and accordingly they say, “Go to the Golden gate, and take a few pics that you can also use for (Indian matrimonial site)”.

Vivek’s accidental meeting with Shweta  (Melanie Kannokada), a second generation Indian or ABCD as they are called by desi circles, results in a sprouting romance. However, Vivek’s uncertain future suddenly ends a relationship that looked promising. Vivke laments, “Temporary is not how you feel living here, it’s also how others see you”. Meanwhile, Shweta’s author father Vishwanath Prabhu (Rajit Kapur) is on a speaker’s circuit advising young Indians to return home and make a difference in India.

Vivek’s townhouse roommates include Sam (Samrat Chakrabarti), a gay co-worker Lakshmi (Omi Vaidya), and Amit (Amitosh Nagpal). Their innocent mistake or allowing a friend who is an illegal immigrant, lands them on the FBI’s watch list. Each of them is also navigating a set of cultural and practical challenges. Omi is reluctant to visit his family back home, from the fear that he may be pressured to get married and they will not accept his being gay. Amit has to present his passport to the FBI but has misplaced it.

As the movie progresses it begins to become clearer that among the blessings these young people have are their families who care deeply for their happiness and love and support of friends who are stuck in similar moral dilemmas and navigating practical challenges. Amit bring many lighter moments. Living in a shadow of uncertainty he says, Zindagi sirf guarantee pe nahi, umido pe bhi chalti hai (life doesn’t just run on certainly, it also unravels on the basis of hope).

Writer-producer Rishi S. Bhilawadikar’s script is fast moving and hits a range of diverse points that highlight the complexities of living a life of uncertainty. Director Rucha Humnabadkar has avoided over-dramatizing any of these challenges, while maintaining focus. 

In the end, what you are impressed with is the quiet tenacity and adaptability of these bright young people. Vivek says, Akhir zindagi sirf umiddo pe nahi, apni nazariya pe bhi to chalti hai (after all, life doesn’t just unfold on the basis of hope, but also unravels as per your perspective and efforts).

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