Movie Review by Sukhdev Sandhu
I for India, the feature debut by English director Sandhya Suri, is a remarkable meditation on the agonies and enigmas of migration. It draws heavily on an archive of home recordings, both audio and cinematic, assembled by her father Yash Pal Suri.
He felt lonely when he arrived in the UK in 1965; he missed his family's voices, the smile in their eyes.
Aerogrammes couldn't bridge the gulf between his past and his present life, so he decided to buy two sets of Super-8 film cameras, reel-to-reel tape recorders and film projectors, keeping one for himself and sending one back to his family home.
In contrast to Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation, another film to construct a family biography from private material, Suri does not draw attention to herself. The footage, carefully shaped and edited, is about other people, and it is funny, evocative and deeply moving.
The Suri family's hopes and anxieties have a raw intimacy: "My son is so far away," we hear Yash Pal's father cry. "I feel like dying. What shall I do? My life is unbearable without you." At moments such as these, migration becomes de-provincialised, a story not just about a changing Britain, but of a changing India too.
It's rare these days to see a film about migrants that does not dwell on religion or caste. I for India is more concerned with issues of memory and cultural adaptation.
It also shows how technology, far from being the preserve of techno-fetishists, can sustain diasporas by creating world-wide webs of kin.