For this week’s #TBT, we’re revisiting the indie film “For Here or To Go.” Directed by Rucha Humnabadkar, the movie is a detailed, emotional look at the visa system in the United States.
Told through the lens of Vivek Pandit (Ali Fazal), a software whiz who has settled in the Bay Area for work, “For Here or To Go” feels like the personal experience of several immigrant workers who choose settle in the U.S. but have to battle a complicated, lengthy visa structure.
Vivek has been working with a high-level company for seven years even though he isn’t too emotionally invested in the job. Things start to change for him when he gets a coveted offer to work with a healthcare start-up thanks to his unique software. Unfortunately for Vivek, the offer is rescinded when they learn his visa expires in less than a year.
This puts him in a dilemma because without a visa renewal, he’ll have to move back to India and abandon the life and career he was only just starting to build for himself. It’s during this time he also falls for an Indian-American woman he meets, Shveta. He soon discovers he isn’t alone in his visa problems. His roommates are also going through similar issues.
“For Here or To Go” may have released before the 2016 election but even today, especially today, the emphasis it puts on the middle class South Asian working millennials is eye-opening. It’s relatable to those who are facing similar problems but it’s also educative for those who are unaware of the complex system to acquire a work visa.
Vivek’s friend Lakshmi hasn’t visited his family in five years because he is waiting on his Green Card. His roommate Amit might seem like a flashy temporary worker enjoying his benefits but there is more to his story, as well.
“For Here or To Go” is a worthy attempt at highlighting the paradoxes faced by the South Asian community who work here after having moved from India. It captures the tension and the wonder of living in a new country in hopes of a better life.
The film stars Ali Fazal, who was a new Academy member this year, in the lead. His credits include “Victoria and Abdul” and “Furious 7.” His work in this is great because you can feel his frustration and hopelessness at the turns his life is taking.
Melanie Chandra plays his love interest Shveta. She is best known for her work in “Code Black” and “Brown Nation.” She is also working currently working on bringing the pilot of “Surina & Mel” to life on the big-screen.
The movie also stars Omi Vaidya, Rajit Kapur, Amitosh Nagpal, and Samrat Chakrabarti. It is written by Rishi Bhilawadikar. Starting in 2015, the film began premiering in film festivals across the country to positive reviews. It was theatrically released in 2017.