A beautiful little film about an impoverished young Indian boy and his fascination with the apparent utopia of ‘Umrika’ has won the Audience Award for World Cinema at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.
‘Umrika’ – a play on how ‘America’ is pronounced in parts of the sub-continent – was written and directed by ad executive-turned-social media-tycoon-turned-filmmaker Prashant Nair, the man behind the delightful 2011 comedy ‘Delhi in a Day’.
The film stars ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Homeland’ star Suraj Sharma in his Indian feature debut, as Ramakant.
As a young boy, Ramakant watches his beloved older brother Udai leave their small Uttar Pradesh village and travel in search of better prospects to ‘Umrika’.
Over the years, Udai’s letters inspire Ramakant and breathe new life in to the workings of the brothers’ village, encouraging new traditions, sparking community debate and providing the impetus for young men and women to learn.
However, following a family tragedy, Ramakant discovers a startling deception that sees him embark on a journey of self-discovery.
Critics have raved about the film, describing it as a “warm”, “quirky” and “sobering” piece of cinema anchored by the outstanding Sharma.
Berlin-based Nair has said he was inspired to make the film by the disparity in how different cultures perceive each other as well as the issue of immigration.
The film was developed with funding from the Sundance Mahindra Lab for filmmakers, the same outfit that helped develop ‘Margarita With A Straw’.