Enjoyable drama despite heavy handed message at end (spoilers)
Indian English Literature teacher Surender flies to England for his first holiday in the country. On the plane he mislays his passport and is mistaken for a criminal by immigration control. While they try to ascertain his identity he is sent to an asylum centre where he escapes and flees into a small village. He is taken by the village and signs up to act in the local play - his cover being provided by an English Indian staying with her doctor boyfriend. However can Surender keep his secret until after the play?
An enjoyable little tv special, commissioned and show by the BBC as part of their Indian season of programmes `Big Dreams'. This film is quite a delightful look at one person coming to England full of hopes and dreams which are able to come true as he bypasses being prejudged by pretending to be the cousin of Neerja and proving useful in the play. The film ambles along nicely with a certain amount of drama and humour. The final 10 minutes are a little heavy - basically Surender is exposed as the escaped asylum seeker and immediately the prejudice of the villagers comes out. This message is hammered home without subtlety or finesse - like we couldn't be trusted to work things out for ourselves ad needed to be shouted at! Aside from this though it is pretty enjoyable and light, it challenges us to see the person and not the asylum seeker (although Surender is never an asylum seeker - a braver film would have not given him the luxury of this cover).
The cast are all good, but suggests that we don't have many talented Asian actors - several shows of the same period which had an Asian cast had many of the same actors! Bisson is good though and is very different from his role in `Second Generation'. Nitin, a good actor, has a harder role as he is less sympathetic, but he does a very good job. Purie was very cute and very likeable in her role but given little to do - I didn't totally get her character. Mackichan was strong as were the rest of the cast, even if there roles were small, however it is Bisson's film most of the way and he plays it very well. The main criticism I would have of the film is that Surender is TOO nice for the film to then turn around and make a general point as if all asylum seekers were like him - I'll keep my politics out of this, but I would have liked a more balanced view rather than doing what it actually did, which was to suddenly have the nice villagers doing everything but actually burn crosses!
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