Review: ‘The Knot’ is a battle between karma and pride.

THE KNOT

Shirish and Geeta, a middle-class couple, have a car accident one night. Their differing reactions to the fallout from the accident open up fissures in their relationship and puts to test their values and beliefs.

Before we were married, my husband and I lived in India for a year. We pretended to be married to avoid the social scrutiny. We purchased a scooter to get places on the weekends and took rickshaw rides as infrequently as possible because of Westerner price gouging. The streets were always overflowing with vehicles and people. Before I continue, I feel I must preface this review with the fact that my husband and I are white. We were born and raised on the east coast of the United States. Once we arrived in India, we dove headfirst into the culture, food, and local customs. It was all so new to us. We would be forever changed by our time there. The social structure in India is a caste system. The disparity between the upper class and the lower class is astounding. In the US, it’s easier to hide. There is a bit more visual nuance. In India, it’s much more black and white. In Ashish Pant‘s The Knot, a young, affluent couple is forced to confront that very social construct after a sudden accident. The foundation of their marriage begins to crack as the lies they tell one another and themselves will have dire consequences.

The Knot is a morality tale and a relationship movie. Geeta and Shirish are forced to confront their own flaws and the power dynamics in their marriage. Shirish’s obsession with status comes to a head with Geeta’s attempts to dissolve her guilt. Performances across the board are wonderful and the look of the film is lush. The Knot makes a point to show the realities of the country. This authenticity is key to the film’s success. The traffic is a chaotic free-for-all. We lived in Hyderabad. Drivers didn’t use their turn signals, instead, they would honk their horns. From the audio in the film, it sounds as if little has changed since 2009. It’s indescribably dangerous. We often wondered how many hit-and-run deaths were hidden due to the normalized practice of bribery. The film slyly grapples with the hierarchy at its worst. Pant uses subtle shifts in language, music, and dialect to illustrate caste. It’s such an intelligent and daring screenplay. The Knot boasts an explosive finale. The very last pan of the camera and the breaking of the fourth wall is chilling. Bravo to Ashish Pant for making such a fearless debut film.

THE KNOT WORLD PREMIERED ON MARCH 31, 2021 AT THE SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Aamis’ serves up a shocking treat.

AAMIS (RAVENING)

Food and romance seem to go hand in hand. Think about the traditional date. It usually revolves around dinner or coffee. Food is the ultimate form of aphrodisiac. Though, both food and love can spoil quickly. In Aamis, Tribeca’s only Indian feature film this year,  married doctor Niri meets Sumon, a Ph.D. student studying regional meat-eating traditions in India. As their relationship moves swiftly past friendship, the idea of experiencing “forbidden” meat cuisine progresses into an infatuation beyond imagination. Set in the colorful backdrop of North Eastern India, the natural scenery combined with the rich prepared dishes gives the film a gorgeous visual pop. The actual act of eating in scenes is very sensual. No surprise seeing as how the senses are sparked when tasting something delicious and when falling in love. Food and sense memories are created throughout our lives. I can still remember meals based on specific dates with my husband, spanning the 14 years we’ve been together. Not to mention we actually lived in Southern India for a year in the very early years of our relationship. Experiencing new flavors and adventures with someone you care deeply for is invigorating. All that being said, this film takes it to an entirely new level; an intimacy that will either intrigue or distress you. The performances from our two leads are fantastic. It’s a tricky dynamic to navigate given the circumstances but their chemistry is very grounded and reads completely natural. The age difference is another added bit of fire. Aamis, the first film for Tribeca to feature the Assamese language, is an outstanding representation of emerging Indian cinema outside the realm of your typical Bollywood fare. It is bold and dark. I may go as far as to call it a tasty, genre-bending surprise. The things we do for love.
Married Niri (Lima Das) shares a forbidden passion with Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah), who introduces her to a world of fresh, wild, meat-based delicacies. But as their unconsummated desire mounts, the two are pushed inexorably towards transgression and taboo. A daring, intense drama that veers into very dark territory, Aamis is Tribeca 2019’s only Indian film, and the festival’s first-ever Assamese language film.

Exclusive Clip from the upcoming film FOR HERE OR TO GO? coming to theaters this Friday! The battle over legal immigration and the H-1B visa has many familiar faces.

Reel News Daily is exclusively premiering a clip from the politically relevant film, FOR HERE OR TO GO?, a film about a young Silicon Valley software engineer Vivek Pandit, who is poised to become a key hire at a promising healthcare startup, but when the company realizes his work visa has less than a year remaining, the offer disappears. American in mind and Indian at heart, FOR HERE OR TO GO? is a contemporary story of ambition and ambivalence fueled by one’s immigration status that characterizes the dilemma of modern cultural displacement.
The clip could actually be considered a hilarious metaphor for the rest of the film, check it out below:

Starring: Ali Fazal  (Furious 7), Melanie Chandra (CBS’s “Code Black”), Omi Vaidya  (TV’s “Brown Nation”), Amitosh Nagpal (in his International Debut), Rajit Kapur (Making of the Mahatma) and Samrat Chakrabarti (Viceroy’s House)

The film will be released in theaters on March 31st.

Review: ‘The Letters’ Teaching Us The True Meaning Of Charity

Now approaching the holiday season we start thinking of charity, family, and love. Some donate food and some volunteer at shelters and hospitals. This time of year makes us feel the need to give to those who are less fortunate. However, Mother Teresa gave more than her charity a month or two out of the year, she served the poorest of the poor for the last 50 years of her life. Audiences get to see this inspiring journey through those years in William Riead’s Biopic The Letters.

The story begins in 2003 with Father Benjamin Draggh (Rutger Hauer) investigating events during and after Mother Teresa’s life (Juliet Stevenson), that could give the Vatican the evidence they need to award her with Beatification. During his investigation he met with her spiritual adviser, Father Celeste Van Exem (Max Von Sydow) who presented him with letters written between the two of them during the last 40 years of her life; some of the letters showed signs of her faith wavering during her time in India. With these letters he tells her story beginning in the year 1946, during her time as teacher at the Loreto Convent in Dareeling, India. She loved to teach however when she looked outside the convent she saw people starving and and dying in the streets. Regardless of race or religion she believed that God had placed her on this earth with the purpose to serve those who are less fortunate. This film is the story of how she changed the lives of those around her with her life and her love.

Juliet Stevenson gave a phenomenal performance. She made me sympathize greatly with her character, and did fairly well with her accent and mannerisms. As for the rest of the cast, their performances were quite underwhelming. The best part of the film was the story. It’s hard to not feel inspired when watching the life accomplishments of a strong, selfless woman. That being said, there was a lot that the film was lacking in. The film is predicable. We  know she was a selfless woman, however knowing that the film is called “The Letters” one may believe that we would see a different side to this story. Her spiritual adviser mentions that these letters contain signs  that she is loosing faith in God multiple times during the film, yet in the visual reenactments during the film the audience never see’s any signs of her faith wavering. Which leaves us wondering “why mention it”? The film was a bit slow and could have been laid out in a more appealing way, however this does not mean you should not see it. If you believe technical and cinematic aspects of films come second to an inspiring story, then I would suggest giving this film a watch. The life of Mother Teresa is enlightening and may affect the way you see the life you have. You can see The Letters in theaters on December 4th.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars.