Manish Dayal’s “15 Years Later” explores the psyches of two men in the years since 9/11. The lives of an Indian-American computer technician and a white cop intersect one night years after the tragic event, leading both of them to confront issues that were buried deep down. In addition to starring in this short film, Dayal is also the writer and director. It premiered initially in April at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
As the film opens, we meet Sameer (aka Sam, who is played by Dayal) and Jason in their individual homes as, clearly shocked, they watch the news coverage of the 9/11 attacks. While Sam goes to a bar and is met with nervous looks, Jason continues his gun training because he’s about to become a cop. The film then cuts to 15 years later when Sam and his girlfriend Amy are driving home. Jason (now a police officer) spots them and instructs them to stop.
Sam and Amy are both confused about why they’re pulled over but it becomes immediately and imminently obvious that Jason doesn’t approve of the way Sam looks. When Sam realizes this and begins questioning the cop, Jason asks him to step out of the car. It is then when things spin totally out of control.
Later that night, Amy comforts Sam and tells him the cop was blatantly racist and unconstitutional, which means he’ll suffer consequences. Sam honestly tells her how naive she is, asking her to check her white privilege. It’s an honest conversation the two have and even though we don’t see much of it, it clearly has an impact on Amy. The real twist in the story comes when Sam and Jason’s paths cross again when Sam turns out to be the technician called to Jason’s house by his girlfriend to fix the WiFi.
Both men are forced to come face-to-face again, under unusual circumstances, and confront their reality.
Matt McGorry, who plays Jason, is excellent in the role. He’s known for his work in “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Orange is the New Black.” Award-winner Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) stars as Amy, proving herself as a total delight once again. Tracy Mullholland, who co-produced the film along with Dayal, plays Jason’s girlfriend Susan.
Dayal’s work is sublime, both as a director and an actor. He manages to showcase the intensity, the pain, and the sadness both the men are going through with minimal yet poignant dialogue. His slow-moving direction captures even the subtle things in the scenes. He puts the spotlight on police brutality and racism towards the South Asian diaspora.
Currently, he stars in the FOX medical drama “The Resident,” which will return for a second season this fall. His previous TV credits include “Halt and Catch Fire,” “90210,” “Switched at Birth,” and “Agents of SHIELD.” He’s also starred in films like “Viceroy’s House” and “The Hundred Foot Journey.”
“15 Years Later” is available to stream right here.