Review: ‘FOR HERE OR TO GO’ tackles the H-B1 visa issue with heart and humor.

Statistically, those of us born in the US are incredibly lucky. The likelihood that someone is born in Asia is so much more likely when you consider population density. Having lived in India from the end of 2008 into the beginning of 2009, I was witness to the victory of Barack Obama, The Mumbai attacks, and the general obsession with Western culture. If Indian parents can afford to send their kids to college here or if an adult can procure a job in The States, this is a huge deal. The concept of American citizens assuming that legal immigrants are “stealing” their jobs can be true for companies whose goal is to save money, but that’s not always the case. Most of the time, if someone from another country is hired, it’s because they are rightfully qualified. FOR HERE OR TO GO? follows the story of one man’s journey through the H-B1 visa process and continuing his pursuit of the American dream.

Young Silicon Valley software engineer Vivek Pandit is poised to become a key hire at a promising healthcare startup, but when they realize his work visa has less than a year remaining, the offer disappears. Having learned the hard way about the flaws in his “it’s just paperwork” mentality, Vivek battles forces beyond his control to get his visa extended, whether at his existing company or a new job. Along the way, his eyes are opened to the similar struggles of his own roommates and those around him. American in mind and Indian at heart, this is a contemporary story of ambition and ambivalence fueled by one’s immigration status that characterizes the dilemma of modern cultural displacement.

The film reads beyond authentic. I may have found it a bit more intriguing having the experience in Indian culture first hand. But the heart and humor should be obvious to any audience. This film is truly politically relevant at the moment and has been killing it on the festival circuit. The cast has a wonderful chemistry. Each performance is nuanced real. Though I will say our leading man, Ali Fazal, has a likeability and charm that is unsurpassed by anyone else in the film. This script may have to be considered in an “if the shoe were on the other foot scenario” to truly be appreciated to it’s fullest. First-time writer Rishi S. Bhilawadikar wrote the screenplay after her own personal struggles with immigration to the United States.

Let me be clear, while the film has an overall theme, there is much more to celebrate. There is a love story, roommate shenanigans, and an immersive comedy that comes with both the Indian and Western cultures. FOR HERE OR TO GO? is a really enjoyable film, and film festivals seem to agree. It has screened for audiences at no less than 15  different fests since 2015. You can catch it yourself in theaters this Friday, March 31st.

In Theaters on March 31st

Starring:  Ali Fazal  (Furious 7), Melanie Chandra (CBS’s “Code Black”), Omi Vaidya  (TV’s “Brown Nation”), Amitosh Nagpal (TV’s “Powder”) and Rajit Kapur (Life is Good).

RT: 105 Minutes

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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