Film: For Here or To Go?
Cast: Ali Fazal, Melanie Kannokada, Rajit Kapur, Omi Vaidya, Amitosh Nagpal, Samrat Chakrabarti
Director: Rucha Humnabadkar
Rating: * * ½
Yet another of those confused Desi-in-America, immigrant story pursuits, this one has a Mumbai-born Silicon Valley software whiz Vivek Pandit (Ali Fazal) battling baffling immigration rules, flighty ambitions and his own conflicting emotions regarding relationships and his true belonging. The narrative basically elaborates on immigrant aspirations of the Desi who hasn’t quite come to terms with his own inner urgings and therefore, cultivates apprehensions that have him caught between an uncertain Green card status and cultural displacement.
Vivek, after seven years of hard work for one company, is about to land a plum position at a healthcare start-up, but obstacles abound in the form of neglected immigration paperwork and minor indiscretions that have him on the FBI watch list. Vivek also has a floundering love-life with Shweta (Melanie) and a revolving door of room partners including Sam (Samrat Chakrabarti), gay co-worker Lakshmi (Omi Vaidya), Amit (Amitosh Nagpal) and a mysterious weekend visitor-who eventually add up to his problems. Contrasting that plot line is Shweta’s author father Vishwanath Prabhu (Rajit Kapur), who exhorts talented Indians to return home to make their fortunes – even though he continues to be invested in the American dream himself with his State side business partner Raj Mehta (Keith Stevenson).
While the title appropriately describes the conflict inherent in this drama, the latter is not passionately defined or presented with enough punch to be affecting. The light-hearted, almost flirty treatment of unemployment issues and ethnic conflicts restricts memorability here. The script by writer/producer Rishi S. Bhilawadikar has some gritty and fleetingly intense moments, but the tension is never carried forward. Ali Fazal makes great use of his eyes to convey his inner turmoil, Amitosh Nagpal is particularly effective as the bluntly persuasive and crude Desi, but the rest just don’t do enough to register. Director Rucha Humnabadkar and DP Tristan Nyby combine well to provide sunny vistas of the California scape. Peter Scartabello’s musical score also reflects the dramatic highs and lows with a fair deal of skill. Ultimately it’s the unambitious writing and treatment that keeps the film in a floppy limbo.