What Election? Let's Go To The Movies!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

[Happy Election/Regime Change Day, U.S. readers!

Before I start this post, I feel like I may actually be condemned to reincarnation as a cockroach if I don't tell you to go vote, and specifically, for Barack Obama. So, if you haven't already, GO VOTE. And if you're undecided, VOTE OBAMA.

xoxo, My eternal soul.]


Today, I needed a quick diversion from all the election coverage. And what better diversion is there than the movies?

As a Devi, I get a tingly feeling whenever I see American Desis on the silver screen. It doesn't matter whether the movie is painfully bad (ABCD, American Desi, East is East -- I used to call these "identity excretion movies") or surprisingly good (Bend It Like Beckham, Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, Kissing Cousins). I just love being able to relate when I see some poor Indian girl sneaking around with a non-Indian guy behind her parents' back, or the "homeland moment" -- those few seconds when an American Desi visiting India first falls in love with the country.

I'm always on the lookout for quality films by or about brown people, and it looks like there are two hitting theaters at the same time, right now.

The first is Slumdog Millionaire, already a smash hit at the festivals and reportedly an Oscar contender. (They're calling it "this year's Juno.") It's a story about an 18-year-old orphan from the Mumbai slums who reaches the final of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" -- only problem is, everyone thinks he cheated. It's directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting fame, and was shot over six months in my birth state of Bombay, so the cinematography should be rich and thoroughly satisfying. Bonus: Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan star in it. Fox Searchlight just picked it up, and they're holding free promotional screenings all over the U.S. Go here to see if it's playing near you.

The second film is called Crossing Lines, and comes with a disclaimer: I used to know one of the filmmakers, which definitely adds to the intrigue, but the film sounds fascinating nonetheless. It's about a young Devi, Indira Somani, who struggles to stay connected to India after the loss of her father. He and Somani's mother migrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, and like many of us, Somani grew up with one foot in the West and one in the East. She never really thought much of that foot in the East until the death of her father. From the review in India-West:
Somani’s description of growing up will strike a chord with many second generation Indians -- the dual life, being Indian at home, with a mom wearing sarees on weekends, Indian food, and the outside lifestyle that was American -- dancing, music, proms, dating. (For Somani, dating was absolutely off limits.)

Her father, a medical professor, was a no-nonsense patriarch, whose values were frozen in a time warp of the ’60s in India. Yet it was not a relationship devoid of affection. Far from it. This is the terrible dilemma for Indian Americans growing up: They seethe with frustration at the stern strictures of their parents who are often woefully insensitive to what their kids are going through, yet it is the same parents who are their emotional anchor in a sea of cultural hostility.

It has to be said that a girl child has a particularly rough time. Indian Americans are loathe to admit this but many households, have a definite sexist slant -- father is boss, his word is final, and that is that. That’s the Indian parampara, so deal with it. Somani went through all that, but that didn’t mean her father didn’t love her. He did, passionately. And so his death really shook her up. “I felt like I lost my sense of security,” she says in the voiceover. “There is so much that I never got to say to him while he was alive.”
Dual life? Dating being off limits? Stern strictures of clueless parents? Sounds familiar. I can just tell this is the type of documentary that'll get me in the gut -- and I absolutely love films that get me in the gut. The only issue is that it's lacking major distribution, and screenings seem to be scattered. Here's to hoping a studio elects to pick up the film soon.

Speaking of electing... GO OBAMA!!!
6 comments:
Radman said...

The movie slumdog millionaire has gotten a lot of postive buzz. The movie is from the original concept of the novel on which it is based (Q&A by Vikas Swarup. i thought the novel was entertaining but not remarkable. but, i understand that the director has done a fabulous job of interpreting. i will go see the movie.

Anonymous said...

I saw part of the second film you mentioned - it was on our PBS channel recently. Amazing work, I had stumbled upon that channel-surfing and was glued to it till the end. So much to relate to - very touching.

sonia said...

i'd like to see the second one. i hate those movies where they deal with identity issues in annoying ways, like having the daughter smoke (ooooh, what a bad girl). but this is a documentary and looks genuine.

Anonymous said...

loins of punjab also opens soon in certain cities, though it's been out for awhile. this movie is ridiculous funny; check it out.

EMBELLISHER said...

Thanks for the heads up on these two movies.must try and get my hands on them.

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