January 2016 \ Arts & Entertainment \ CINEMA
Immigrants ‘critical’ for both America and India: Indian-American filmmakers

Two Indian-American makers of a new film about immigrants in America believe immigration, which has emerged as a key issue in US presidential elections, is “incredibly critical” for both America and India

  • Ali Fazal (3 Idiots) and Melanie Kannokada (Brown Nation) in a scene from “For Here or To Go?” a comedy drama on battles faced by Indian immigrants in America

 “We think immigration is incredibly critical not just for America but also for India,” says Rishi Bhilawadikar, writer/producer of “For Here or To Go?” a comedy drama set against the backdrop of the 2008 recession about many personal battles faced by immigrants. “Indian Americans are key contributors to growth and competitiveness,” he said in an interview pointing to Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella, CEOs of Google and Microsoft respectively as examples. “As artists we hope a story like ‘For Here or To Go?’ humanises the situation and can contribute towards action in bringing about sensible immigration reform,” Bhilawadikar said. Rucha Humnabadkar, San Francisco-based director of the film, agrees, saying one of their goals “is to show that the immigration debate is about people and people’s lives and not just numbers or policy. We hope to put a human face to this largely political issue.”

“Immigration is a complex demographic phenomenon and there needs to be a broader discussion that goes beyond the theme of illegal immigration to the US,” she said. “Presidential candidates must take a more comprehensive approach, which involves attracting and retaining the brightest and smartest minds from around the world, which is what will continue to help this nation to truly remain innovative and drive sustained economic growth.” The film tells the contemporary story of ambition and ambivalence of Desi immigrants, “Americans in mind and Indians at heart,” through the struggles of Vivek Pandit, a young Silicon Valley software professional awaiting the renewal of his work visa. Bhilawadikar, who came from Mumbai to study interactive storytelling and video game design, said the idea of the film started with his own “experience of trying to be an entrepreneur as an immigrant in 2007, many of which still exist.” “At the time reverse brain-drain phenomenon was picking up and a lot of American educated immigrants had started returning to their home countries largely due to the immigration process.”

Tags: India, America