Films: Amal

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India, 2008, 101 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Canada
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: Hindi, English English Subtitles

Producer: Steven Bray, Robin Cass, David Miller
Editor: Stuart A. McIntyre
Screenwriter: Richie Mehta, Shaun Mehta
Cinematographer: Mitchell Ness
Principal Cast: Rupinder Nagra, Naseeruddin Shah, Seema Biswas

The title character (Rupinder Nagra) is a compassionate Delhi auto-rickshaw driver who lets an apparent vagrant cheat him of his fare. What he doesn’t know is that this act of kindness convinces the dying old man to bequeath to him his vast fortune. While the rickshaw wallah gets embroiled in the care of an injured young pickpocket he chased out into traffic, the old man’s executor launches a campaign to locate him. She is driven by a deadline: if he’s not found after thirty days, the money will revert to the miserable codger’s grown children—a smarmy, grasping trio maneuvering to bilk the unassuming Amal out of his windfall.

Adapted from a short story by first-time writer-director Richie Mehta’s brother, this gentle, absorbing tale resembles a fable. It resists both the cynical and the sentimental but still finds poignancy—as when the angry old man sings a farewell, his voice carrying in exquisite curlicues. Although Mehta is a Toronto-based filmmaker, Amal comes from a Delhi insider’s point of view, evoking the steady eye of Satyajit Ray and infused with true affection for both the characters and the bustling city that serves as a backdrop for their rising tension. Lacking the gloss of its big-budget counterparts, this four-year labor of love is imbued with simple elegance. Under Mehta’s unusually assured hand, the camera at times hovers lovingly, then catches vivid images on the fly. The young director is currently at work on three new films very different from Amal: a science-fiction project, a baseball movie, and a desert action-adventure.


Consulate General of Canada in Denver,
In cooperation with the Aurora Asian / Pacific Community Partnership

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