I For India Sandhya Suri

Like many families, Dr. Yash Pal Suri emigrated from India to England with this family in the ’60s. Instead of writing letters, the good doctor sent Super-8 films to his family back home, who sent back their own images and audio recordings. Suri believed in the myth of returning to his homeland; his films and tapes ache with longing and alienation. I For India avoids the immigrant film cliché because Dr. Suri did return home in 1982. There, he started his own practice but couldn’t attract many patients. His grown-up daughters attended college in India but found campus life lacklustre. The doctor’s wife couldn’t stand the cramped living quarters and restrictive life imposed on women. Alas, India is not home after all. The doctor’s daughter, Sandhya, has woven the family films together with stock footage of National Front demonstrations and old instructional films. Sandhya avoids the standard "talking heads” doc approach and uses a more experimental style that best serves her film. The effect is that I For India unwinds like a multimedia scrapbook of Sandhya’s family but also illustrates the larger immigrant experience. That experience is full of xenophobia, discovery and the search for identity. It is bittersweet, both painful and happy. Home movies convey some of the good times, like house parties full of Indian and white faces. However, Dr. Suri’s voiceover commands the film and his words reveal how torn he was between immigrating to England and returning to his family in India. I For India is a surprisingly touching film that is nostalgic but never sentimental. (Mongrel Media)