Film Commentary [--00]
Confused Emmigrant's Children - - ABCD
Grade = B+
WINNER OF THE GOLD PRIZE FOR LOW BUDGET FILMS - 33rd Houston International Film Festival

ABCD stands for American Born Confused Deshi (an Indian term which was not adequately defined). This independent film set in modern New Jersey and New York follows the trials of a son and daughter of immigrant Asian Indians, whose widowed mother (Madhur Jaffrey - Six Degrees of Separation, Cotton Mary, Vanya of 42nd Street) wants nothing more than to see them both married before she dies, and control their lives in the meanwhile.

Raj is the older brother who is a successful accountant. His mother has arranged a marriage for him to a nice Indian girl to which he has been engaged for over two years. This does not sit well with mother or her Indian friends and relatives who tell of how they only met their arranged spouse a week before or immediately before the wedding.

Nina (Sheetal Sheth) is his promiscuous sister, who wants nothing to do with her mothers matchmaking attempts. When summoned by her mother to have her palm read for spouse potential, Nina believes in none of this and instead of asking the soothsayer about her future spouse, she instead inquires to whether or not she’s going to have to replace her car’s radiator. However, she eventually agrees to met with an engineer who recently arrived from India. She is eventually attracted to him but is put off when he asks her to marry him a week later.

This is an interesting film of the inside of life in America for Indian immigrant’s children struggling to be integrated and accepted in American culture while attempting to maintain some of their Indian heritage. One of the more humorous episodes occurs when Raj and Nina are browbeaten by their mother into going to temple. There, Raj comments that all the statutes of Hindu deities are comparable to monsters in an American horror movie: “Their eyes follow you everywhere.”

Directed and written by first timer Krutin Patel, this is a surprisingly good film about a subject to which I previous had never been exposed not particularly interested. The level of cinematographic production is professional, as are the performances. Patel, present at the screening, wanted to show Americans some aspect of American-Indians whose only other example is Apu on the Simpsons.

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