Amal Richie Mehta

Amal Richie Mehta
It seems that Canadian directors are amazing at making movies in India, at capturing the rich visuals, poignant themes of poverty, generosity, love and forgiveness, giving insight into a culture simultaneously removed from, and intrinsically joined to, our own. Richie Mehta’s debut feature as a writer/director follows a young, pure-hearted rickshaw driver named Amal (Rupinder Nagra) as he goes about his business of driving customers around New Delhi, day in and day out. When Amal meets the fabulously wealthy G.K. Jayaram (Bollywood star Naseeruddin Shah), the patriarch of a rather spoiled, rich family, the courses of both their lives change. Not that Amal is aware of any of it.

For the jaded, old Jayaram, Amal represents a ray of goodness seeping into an otherwise bitter world. He dies, changing his will at the last moment, leaving his fortune to the rickshaw driver who touched his heart so profoundly.

The vapid, greedy children of the recently deceased man scramble to secure their now endangered cushy futures while his lawyer desperately hunts through the vast labyrinth of the city streets for the new heir. In the meantime, Amal, blissfully unaware of these machinations or the tempest brewing around him, goes about his business.

When a beautiful client has her bag stolen in his vehicle, Amal chases the young thief, only to see her get struck by a car. Being the good man that he is, Amal assumes responsibility for the little urchin’s care, while innocently wooing the beautiful customer to boot.

Perhaps because they both star the excellent and prolific Roshan Seth (in this case, as the good-at-heart lawyer), Amal feels a bit reminiscent of Sturla Gunnarsson’s Such a Long Journey, another tale about a good man caught in the whirlwind of a crazy world.

As the story slowly unravels, it becomes less and less clear what the best thing would be for Amal — that he receives Jayaram’s money and enters the world of corruption and deceit in which the other heirs dwell or that he remains poor but untarnished. (Seville)