Promise Land, directed by Kevin Dalvi, is a brilliant, intense and engaging drama about the lives of a few individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. The film weaves together three ... See full summary »

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Arif Khan
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Jennifer Tamer
Anita Chandwaney
Elizabeth Abraham ...
Faiza Khan
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Asad Khan (as Rahsaan Islam)
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Saniya Khan
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Deepika Malhotra
Tim McCarthy
Nikhil Bafna ...
Vinny Oak
Amit Rana ...
Amit Kapoor
Christina Thodos ...
Immigration Officer 2
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Andrew Bailey
Jeanne Scurek ...
Sheila Rumsey
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Prosecutor (as Jennifer Sall)
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Storyline

Promise Land, directed by Kevin Dalvi, is a brilliant, intense and engaging drama about the lives of a few individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. The film weaves together three compelling narratives that focus on immigration issues. Inspired by real life stories, the plot revolves around South Asian immigrants living in Chicago and the people they encounter. It's about their unique struggles, triumphs, conflicts and challenges. It's funny, touching, heart-warming, and more importantly, it is a film with a powerful social message that relates to current events. Written by Kevin Dalvi

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Drama

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20 April 2013 (USA)  »

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$500,000 (estimated)
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*Movie Review* Kevin Dalvi's Promise Land
19 April 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Overall – An excellent and unique debut for director Kevin Dalvi. See even more details at my full article on http://urbanasian.com/bollywood/2012/07/movie-review-kevin-dalvis- promise-land/

Story 1: The Khan Family

The first story centers on a Muslim family originally from Pakistan. When we are first introduced to them, they seem like your typical American family – enjoying life, playing sports, and hanging out with friends. The patriarch of the family, Arif Khan (played by Kamal Joseph Hans), seemingly has it all – perfect wife, two perfect kids, perfect job, and the perfect life. However, immigration rears its ugly head and threatens to tear the family apart. The family has to interview with federal officers to prove why they should stay in the US… but are they able to? I won't spoil the ending for you – for that you'll have to watch the movie – but I will say that it isn't the result you will expect.

Some highlights of this portion of the movie include scenes between Mouzam Makkar, who plays Saniya Khan, and her gal pals. Dalvi smartly added in some funny moments into the storyline early on, to both normalize the lives of the characters and to also help the viewer forge a connection with the characters. Of the actors playing the friends, Charlie Ciarrocchi, in particular, is able to draw the viewer into the story with her bubbly persona and comic timing. She seems a natural in front of the camera, and is able to infuse just the right amount of humor into each of her scenes. Look out for a slam dunk (that's your hint as to when to look out for him) cameo by producer, Sunny Verma! Mouzam too does a great job with the role of Saniya Khan and does a commendable job bringing the character's array of emotions to life. Some of the other actors in this portion, however, needed to connect better to their characters to bring them even more to life. Had they done so, the story would have evoked even greater sympathy from the viewer. Also, there are certain aspects that were initially confusing – i.e. as to the relationship of the characters, but by the middle portion of the story, things get clearer.

Story 2: The Aspiring Employees

Story number two revolves around Ryan Sherman (played by Tim McCarthy), Vinny Oak (Nikhil Bafna), and Deepika Malhotra (Leena Kurishingal) who are employees of what can only be deemed an IT sweatshop. The company is run under the tight grasp of Rajeev Chopra. This story focuses on work permit issues and, like story #1, the conclusion to it is well written.

The characters in this segment seemed more etched out than those in Story #1. The characters were a lot more layered and, therefore, more easy to relate to. Each person had their own personal pressures to cope with as well as work pressures. The three characters begin with some coldness and hostility obviously present among them, but by the end, we are able to see the wider journey they are taking. Of the actors, Nikhil Bafna and Tim McCarthy stood out as they carried the bulk of the storyline and shared the most screen time. Both essayed their roles without going over the top. Such subdued performances worked to add realism to their roles.

However, there is another actor who steals the whole show! Despite essaying a relatively smaller role than the main trio, the character played by Suneel Mundle steals the show. His comic timing is dead on and was a hit with the crowd I watched the movie with. Suneel is funny without seemingly trying too hard. Each time he is on the screen, get ready to laugh! Again, the writing is well done by Dalvi, who masterfully adds in comic moments in what was one of the more serious story lines. Story 2 showcases Dalvi's writing talent best as there is a clear beginning, middle, and end. It is the strongest written of the three plot lines.

Story 3: The Struggling Couple

The issue of gays/lesbians has often been glossed over in Indian cinema. However, while still tackling the larger issue of immigration, Dalvi manages to seamlessly add in this equally heavy issue into his story. Story 3 deals with a lesbian couple – Ruby Gupta (played by Fawzia Mirza) and Jennifer Tamer (played by Brenda Barrie) – whose lives were going smoothly until Ruby'smother, Maya (played by Anita Chandwaney), arrives to shake things up. That's not the only worry they have to face, as it is possible that Ruby may be deported. How they cope with Ruby's Mom and Ruby's work struggles form the basis for this story line.

Viewers were surprised that a lesbian couple had been added, but this portion is much needed in the overall movie to further underline how immigration issues affect South Asians of all backgrounds. Of the three stories, the actors in Story 3 portrayed their characters best. The on- screen chemistry between Fawzia and Brenda worked well and made their relationship believable. Fawzia especially plays her role with conviction. However, the stand out in the whole story is Anita Chandwaney. Her character reminded me a great deal of the Mom from Bend it Like Beckhamas well as Kiron Kher's character from Dostana! Her expressions are priceless and her quest to get Ruby married to a straight man, equally hilarious. Behind all these comic moments, however,Dalvi manages to tackle the fact that society needs to accept gay couples. This storyline really makes you think, because we often forget the greater implications and legal implications of not granting gay couples the full rights of a married couple.


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