Suraj Sharma, the star of Life of Pi, makes a moving Indian indie debut in this bittersweet 80s-set drama about a young man from a mountain village who sets off to find the older brother who’s filled his head with dreams of America.
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.