For Here Or To Go?
Starring Ali Fazal, Amitosh Nagpal, Omi Vaidya, Melanie Kannokada, Rajit Kapoor
Directed by Rucha Humnabadkar
Rating: **(2 stars)
Do you remember that time when your 7-year old child would run into the house excitedly after school trying to tell you everything in the same breath? Rucha Humanbadkar’s For Here Or To Go? reminded me of that 7-year old who just couldn’t get it all out in one breath. The film about the plight of Indian immigrants in America tries to cram in all the migratory woes in less than two hours of playing-time. The end-result is a cramped stilted, half-finished product more remarkable for what it intends than achieves.It’s like logging out even before the computer has started.
The film has an affable cast, though. The actors try their utmost to keep the proceedings from sagging. Ali Afzal as a Gujarati software engineer waiting for his precious Green Card struggles with lines, situations and crises that the writer(Rishi Bhilawadkar) must have put into the plot with the best of intentions. Ali must deal with a mother back home and a girlfriend in America both hellbent on thrusting matrimony on his uncertain future.
Admittedly the mood is palpably tense as the Indian immigrants’ plight gets highlighted in scenes that every NRI would identify with.But there is way too much happening here that is clumsily captured in the narrative.
More than fugitives of American immigration laws these characters look like casualties of a criminal mishandling by a script that needed serious revision and updating.There are references to Obama and the cellphone that look dated. But these are the least of the problems in a film that just won’t allow the characters to breathe in peace. Every second, the narrative breathes down their necks reminding them of their representational ramifications.
Omi Vadiya plays the most wheezy character of the lot. He is an NRI and also a closet homosexual in a film that hardly has room to respect the characters’ sexuality.Among many others the script runs after a Sardarji who is an illegal immigrant and his peer who speaks up against race violence.
Rajit Kapoor struggles to infuse intellectual juice on a shriveled over-crowded script . He plays an NRI urging Indians in America to return home to growing opportunities.
Like the NRIs, we are unconvinced .
What’s worse is a whole ‘Bollywood’ language that’s thrust on the characters. There is a daughter –father conflict drama(Melanie Kannakoda and Rajit Kapoor,the latter infusing gravitas into a character belonging to a script that never grew into maturity),some silly NRI-meets-firangi jokes(confusion over milk in the supermarket that won’t make it on whatsapp) and believe it or not a couple of Bollywood-styled songs and dances which seem as in-sync with the rest of the film as coffee breaks during a séance.
Ali Fazal struggles along bravely. But the best lines and moments go to the very talented Amitosh Nagpal as Ali’s flatmate in San Francisco who is brash, crude, overconfident and emabrassing . Nagpal has the three best moments and lines of the film including one where he tells Ali, ‘You’ve the body of Salman Khan. But you lost out on height and looks.’