Boys...", about thousands of Punjabi
lads desperately trying to go abroad, is
a horrendous story. Their stark and blank
faces relate how the young men sell their
family land or home to pay 'the agent' who
promises them El Dorado. On forged or tourist
visas, they agree to be smuggled into the
of them relates his experience of boarding
a rickety, overloaded boat. Once on board,
more and more hopeful immigrants were packed
in until it started to list. After lifting
anchor, it was purposely sunk and hundreds
drowned but he escaped and was returned
to Punjab by the authorities. Now his land
is gone, his old parents hardly have any
income and his future is bleak.
immigration laws getting tougher and the
increasing risks in 'human smuggling', there
is a steady demand for the services of unscrupulous
'agents' by foolish young men who think
that their fortune lies overseas. They hear
of their kith and kin who went abroad illegally
and after the initial hardships, they managed
to get legal papers and prospered.
reasons are easy to determine. Basically,
the populations of Europe and the US are
aging while young couples do not want to
produce and bring up children, so there
is a shortage for cheap, manual labour.
The illegal immigrants fill this demand
at rock bottom wages.
real culprits are the so-called 'agents'
who scout for potential immigrants. These
agents are part of the local communities
and have become influential with their wealth
and 'contacts'. They charge anything up
to $40,000 paid in instalments for smuggling
a person. Now multiply this figure by 200,000
or more for Punjab every year and it becomes
clear why smuggling immigrants is more lucrative
than smuggling drugs.
other film "I for India" tells
a real life family history and the yearning
of an NRI doctor who migrated to Britain,
did well, brought up his children and wanted
to return to India.
Pal Suri, the filmmaker's father, left Meerut
for Britain in 1965 and instead of writing
letters, he remained in touch with his parents
and siblings by using two Super 8-mm cameras
and audiotape recorders - one set was with
him and the other with his family in India.
Over four decades of these recordings have
been edited and made into a documentary.
family history is very personal but also
very common for NRIs as it has short extracts
from documentaries and TV programmes of
1960s and 1970s showing Britain's tight-lipped
resentment for coloured people.
always yearns to return to his roots in
Meerut and as his daughters grow up, he
makes up his mind to return 'home' with
his family because his relatives keep telling
him that he will make a good living as an
is very emotional and he settles down in
his family home and starts his clinic. In
a few months, life becomes suffocating for
him and his family - no patients, overcrowded
home, no good education for his daughters
and no freedom. In brief, he has lost the
quality of life - professionally and personally.
with a heavy heart, he packs his bags again
to return to Britain.
film shows the wedding of one of his daughters,
all dressed up as a typical Indian bride,
and then the camera slowly moves to the
groom - a white Briton whom he accepts as
his son-in-law. His life comes full circle
when his daughter decides to migrate to
Australia in search of a better life - just
as he did about half as century ago.
last scene is poignant as he and his wife
are crowded around their computer and video
conferencing with their daughter down under.
In the final shot, he still proclaims that
he will always remain an Indian!
screenplay writer could have improved upon
this real life drama and Sandhya Suri portrays
it with sensitivity and creatively. No wonder
her film has won many awards at film festivals
and has been widely praised by critics in
the West. Why? Because the film is a living
saga of a basic human obsession - returning
to one's roots.
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