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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


American Chai
Directed by Anurag Mehta
Magic Lamp Releasing 04/02 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - some sexual dialogue

In this spiffy romantic comedy written and directed by Anurag Mehta, Sureel (Aalok Mehta) is a first-generation Indian-American college student who has been hiding his love of music from his traditional and authoritarian father (Paresh Rawal), who wants him to become a doctor. It's the old story of an immigrant who has worked long and hard so that his eldest son can reap the benefits of life in America. Only trouble is, Sureel is just like his father — stubborn and determined to fulfill his dream in his own way.

The setup for the drama cleverly reveals the deceptions this young man must unleash upon his father, who runs a very tight ship — no dating, no music, no R-rated movies. When his parents arrive at his college dormitory room, they find medical textbooks spread over all the chairs. Naturally they have no idea that he is spending most of his time creating music for Fathead, a rock band. Nor do they know he is dating an American girl, Jen (Jamie Hurley), a devotee of his music. But this cleverly constructed world collapses when the band ditches him and his girlfriend walks away.

Sureel happens to meet Maya (Sheetal Sheth), a beautiful dancer, at an Indian festival of performing arts. Soon they are dating seriously. When his father hears about the relationship through Sureel's gossipy cousin, he immediately wants to arrange a marriage for them. But they aren't ready for that step. Sureel forms his own band, American Chai, and Maya applies for a two-year dancing program in London.

One of the most pleasant surprises in this romantic comedy is the way Sureel and Maya inspire each other to follow the creative impulses that make them such unique artists. Here love is a catalyst to self-esteem and answering an artistic calling.

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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