Tag Archives: For Here or to Go?

Streaming Video News: August 15, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with several new additions to the catalog. The 2015 Marathi anthology film Bioscope is now available, as is the 2017 biography series The Creative Indians, with episodes profiling Anurag Kashyap and A. R. Rahman (more on him later). Also new are the movies What’s Your Raashee? (ack!) and Ali Fazal’s For Here or to Go?, which I enjoyed. For everything else new on Netflix — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the new series Harmony with A. R. Rahman, in which the composer explores traditional musical styles from across India. In other Amazon news, Race 3 comes to Prime on August 22. (Insert your own “business” joke here.)

In Theaters: April 7, 2017

No new Hindi movies open in the Chicago area on Friday, April 7, 2017, and there’s little left to choose from. Last weekend’s new release — Naam Shabana — gets a second week at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. The only other Bollywood film showing locally is Badrinath Ki Dulhania at South Barrington 24, while the English-language film For Here or to Go? carries over at MovieMax.

Other Indian movies showing in Chicagoland this weekend include:

Movie Review: For Here or to Go? (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)

For Here or to Go? opens in these theaters Friday, March 31, 2017.

Even though For Here or to Go? made its festival debut in 2015, its 2017 theatrical release could not be more timely. The film examines America’s complicated immigration system not from a policy level, but from a personal one.

Ali Fazal — known to Bollywood fans from movies like Fukrey and Bobby Jasoos and to Hollywood fans from his role in Furious 7 — plays Vivek, a programmer on an H-1B visa working for a big corporation in Silicon Valley. He’d love a job at a startup, where he’d have a better opportunity to put his ideas to work, but his visa status effectively prevents it. Most small startups lack the resources to sponsor visa employees, and he has less than a year left on his visa anyway.

This puts Vivek and countless other foreign employees in a kind of holding pattern, stuck in jobs they don’t want and unable to get new ones. With low odds for getting a green card that would enable him to live and work in the United States permanently — it takes ten months just to get in the line to wait for a green card! — Vivek and his roommates haven’t even bothered to buy furniture. What’s the point, when they’ll have to leave it behind when their visas run out and they’re forced to return to India?

This limbo state is bad for Vivek’s social life as well. It’s impossible to find a lasting relationship when he doesn’t know where he’ll be next year, or even sooner than that if his company should unexpectedly fold, which would give him just days to leave the country.

Vivek’s romantic problems are strictly theoretical until he meets Shveta (Melanie Chandra, nee Kannokada, the pride of Park Ridge, Illinois) at a yoga class. She’s the first American-born Desi woman to give him the time of day. They have fun together, taking center stage during a Bollywood-style flash mob.

While Shveta is an all-American girl, her rich dad, Vishwanath (Rajit Kapur), is trying to convince Desi tech workers to return to India as a sort of penance for his role in the “brain drain” phenomenon, which was the subject of Swades back in 2004. One of the most disheartening aspects of For Here or to Go? is the sense that problems like “brain drain” and the unwelcome feeling experienced by many immigrants have been around for a long time and have only gotten worse since the film was completed, even before the ascent of the Trump administration. Under Vishwanath’s tutelage, Vivek starts to wonder if maybe India is the best place for him after all.

The story is rounded out by Vivek’s roommates, Lakshmi (Omi Vaidya) and Amit (Amitosh Nagpal). Lakshmi is determined to become an American citizen, believing that the US offers him a better chance at happiness as a gay man than India does. Amit has his own visa issues, and his glibness regarding immigration laws worries Vivek.

The pacing of For Here or to Go? — directed by Rucha Humnabadkar and written by Rishi Bhilawadikar — is slow in spots. There are also some logical problems, such as why Vivek never learns that his mentor, Vishwanath, is Shveta’s father.

The film also loses focus as the plot progresses. Instead of sticking with Vivek’s story, For Here or to Go? tries to cover the whole Indian immigrant experience in America. The issue of racist violence against Sikhs and how that impacts their desire to live in the US — a rich enough topic for an entire film of its own — gets wedged into a scene that’s only a few minutes long and has no bearing on the central plot.

Thankfully, some nice performances make up for screenplay scope creep. Fazal is always reliable, whether he’s acting in English or Hindi films, and he’s quite sexy in the movie’s sole romantic scene. Chandra is totally adorable. Vaidya and Nagpal are both charming as well.

For Here or to Go?‘s best selling point is that it’s a really good tutorial on the US immigration system. That’s equal parts praise for a film that makes a dull-seeming topic interesting, and condemnation for a system that’s so complicated it needs a fictional medium to make it comprehensible to the general public.

Links

Opening March 31: Naam Shabana and For Here or to Go?

One new Hindi film opens in the Chicago area on March 31, 2017. Naam Shabana is a spin-off origin story about Taapsee Pannu’s character from the 2015 action film Baby.

Naam Shabana opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 9 min.

Also new this week is the timely English-language film For Here or to Go?, starring Ali Fazal as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur caught up in America’s convoluted immigration system.

For Here or to Go? opens Friday at all four of the above theaters. Click here for a national theater list. The movie has a runtime of 1 hr. 45 min.

Phillauri carries over for a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. Both MovieMax and South Barrington 24 hold over Badrinath Ki Dulhania for a fourth week.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include: