Amal Richie Mehta

While thoroughly charming and well-intentioned, Amal is essentially a victim of its awkwardly manufactured tensions, simplified idealistic viewpoints and over-reliance on archetypal clichés, what with the deferent and impecunious protagonist sweetly embodying the cinematic generalization of the honourable lower class as juxtaposed with the privileged and, as such, inherently corrupt. Indeed, the notion of material wealth being a matter of sentience is heart-warming and reassuring in a culture that dictates status and validity by such frivolities. However, a lack of plausible perspective or relatable characterizations keep this conjecture at arm's length, nearly impossible to view without speculation. A sincerer approach to humanitarian realities may have palliated these many broad generalizations, especially given the unpretentious manner in which the material is handled, never giving way to unnecessary histrionics or distracting camera techniques as a means of creating situational emotional urgency. What is for all intents and purposes a fable tells the story of Amal (Rupinder Nagra), a noble auto-rickshaw driver whose good spirit and sincerity warm the cockles of eccentric millionaire G.K. Jayaram (Naseeruddin Shah), who leaves his fortune to the mild-mannered stranger post-mortem. Some problems arise when Vivek (Vik Sahay), the son of the millionaire, winds up in debt to a local mobster and interferes by bribing his uncle Suresh (Roshan Seth) to obfuscate the search for Amal by G.K's lawyer Sapna (Seema Biswas). The DVD version of the film includes a commentary with writer/director Richie Mehta, as well as a commentary with lead actor Rupinder Nagra and producers David Miller and Steven N. Bray. Mehta's commentary covers writing intentions and cinematic realities in an informative manner, while the latter track is lighter in tone, exploring similar material but with more humour. Many deleted scenes with commentary from Mehta are included as well, which mostly seem to have been cut for the sake of redundancy and continuity. Also included is a brief "Behind the Scenes" featurette examining the realities of shooting in New Delhi, along with the original, and highly amateur, short film that inspired the feature-length version. (Seville)