Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Winner of Sundance’s Audience Award for World Cinema, writer/director Prashant Nair’s handsomely produced Indian indie tells a classic tale of country lads finding their bearings in the big city. As a young boy, Ramakant watches his older brother Udai set off from their remote mountain village en route to America (‘Umrika’). Udai’s letters home are a long time coming, but, lavishly illustrated with magazine clippings, they infuse the whole village with American dreams, and even provide the impetus for Ramakant to learn to read. After a family tragedy, Ramakant himself sets out for Mumbai, determined to follow his brother’s path.
Set in the mid-80s, with global events viewed through an ironic prism of local misconceptions, and a soundtrack peppered with America-influenced vintage Indian pop, Umrika handles its big themes with a light, personal touch. Its bittersweet tone is anchored by Life of Pi star Suraj Sharma in a moving debut – while The Grand Budapest Hotel’s bellboy Tony Revolori turns up as his well-meaning buddy and light relief.