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Dollar Dreams April 8, 2007

Posted by Shujath in English, Hindi, Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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I recall seeing this movie about six years back when I was in college. At that point of time I found this flick fairly entertaining and that was pretty much about it. Only when I happened to see it again a few days back it hit me really hard. Today, I can claim that this is one of the most important and relevant films I’ve seen.

Anyways, this film had come into the limelight when it won the National Award for the Best Feature Film by a debutant – Sekhar Kammula. The film opens with a statistic which says that 66 percent of all Indian immigrants to the United States come from a region called Andhra Pradesh; it actually wouldn’t be totally incorrect if that region can be narrowed down to a place called Hyderabad. What the movie tries to convey is summed up in its tagline – Dare to Dream….Care to Return.

The film traces the mindsets and perspectives of a close knit group of friends as they are on the brink of choosing their respective career paths in an environment where one is almost considered an outcast if he/she has any intentions which aren’t westbound.

Ravi – the first one who decides to take the plunge. He reminds you of a typical software professional on an H1 who comes home on vacation after a year with a changed look and wardrobe, ranting about Indian roads and traffic and of course has to have a mineral water bottle at his side always. Kammula’s satire (or maybe ire) seems intented to be for this group who act like foreigners in their own land just because they happened to be in the US for a few months. Also, their indifference to their families back home is something he tries to point out.

Balu – a wayward guy who hasn’t really got any plans but decides to go with the tide and fly to the US. However, when the time comes to leave he has witnessed certain incidents especially the change in Ravi’s persona which makes him strongly make up his mind against moving to the US.

Phani – a married and working professional doesn’t have any real intentions of going to the US. But societal pressures and the fact that all of his less smarter contemporaries are in the US and making heaps of money prompt him to follow the US trail.

Srinu – has a clear cut goal in life. He wants to get into an Indian business school and he sticks to his decision warding off immense pressure (of going to the US) from family and the society in general.

Usha – who is studying to be a journalist or something and spends her time inverviewing people about why they want to go to the US. There are a couple of other less important characters Sardar – who is all set to start his own poultry business and an NGO worker – whose function in the film is more of an external commentator.

The film culminates with some of the characters deciding to stay back while those who decide to leave strongly pledge to return after a couple of years. I bet most of you at some point in time have already been (or surely will be) in a situation where you have to make this choice (especially if you belong to a certain region as claimed in the movie). The different characters in this movie are pretty much representative of all viewpoints one might think of. You would surely find someone in this group whose perspective closely reflects your own.

However, at first glance this film might look biased as it spends most of its time satirizing people’s blind rush to migrate westward as well as the apparent indifference to their homeland and families. A deeper look clearly shows that the film itself is silent about the inherent act of going to the US to make money. On whichever side you might be on, this is a film which will make you sit back and think about the whole “going to the US” stuff.

One more thing to watch out in this movie is the soulful soundtrack of Lucky Ali’s underrated gem “Sifar”. I couldn’t find the actual names of the cast anywhere but all of them deliver truly authentic performances. Sekhar Kammula is famous today for his classy hits like Anand and Godavari but you should get hold of this one which speaks volumes of his talent.

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