I FOR INDIA is a chronicle of immigration in Britain, from the Sixties to the present day, as seen through the eyes of one Asian family and their movie camera.
In 1965 Yash Pal Suri, a young doctor, left India for the U.K. with hopes of improving his family's life. The first thing he did upon arriving in England was to buy two Super 8mm cameras, two projectors and two reel-to-reel tape recorders. He sent one of each to his family in India, and kept the others for himself.
Over the next forty years, through regular mailings of his filmed and taped thoughts and observations, he shared his new life abroad with family members back home, providing a unique record of the eccentricities-and occasional racism-of his new English hosts. Back in India, his relatives, in turn, responded with their own "cine-letters," sending tales of weddings, festivals and village life, along with impassioned pleas for his return.
In addition to home movies, I FOR INDIA, directed by one of Suri's three daughters, uses archival and contemporary footage and excerpts from BBC TV programs (including The Dark Million, The Immigrant Doctors, and The End of the Line), which chart the changing national mood about immigration over the decades, from bemusement at the strange customs of the South Asian newcomers, to fears of British culture being "swamped," to right-wing protests demanding the expulsion of "colored" immigrants.
By the end of the film, as Suri and his wife communicate today via webcam with a daughter who has relocated to Australia, I FOR INDIA becomes not only a bittersweet time capsule of cultural alienation, discovery, racism and belonging, but also a contemporary exploration of universal, emotionally compelling themes of family separation and the quest for personal happiness, wherever it may take you.
“Sandhya Suri’s moving documentary about her family’s immigration experiences... shows how rich and difficult the issue of ‘Indian-ness’ is for both Indians with relatives abroad and overseas Indians.” —Eric Hung, Film & History
Charles C. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award, 2006 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Official Selection, 2006 Sundance Film Festival
2006 Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival
"Sandhya Suri strikes humanist gold in her feature-filmmaking debut... the film manages to lyrically explore the meaning of filial responsibility with a lasting but unsentimental tenderness... one of the richest documentaries of the year." —Aaron Hillis, The Village Voice
"Critic's Pick! Sandhya Suri's lyrical look at the life of her British-Indian expatriate family over the years—much of it through home-movie footage—could have easily been an artless and self-indulgent wallow, but in the director's remarkably sure hands, it becomes a work of art." —New York Magazine
"A movie that's both deeply personal and surprisingly universal." —Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times
"From some of the most modest materials come some of the best films... Suri's film is a loving tribute to her family that never feels like an invasion of their privacy, and a potent, heartfelt meditation on time, home and identity." —Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
"★★★ A ravishing film-on-film commentary, examining its cinematic subject as if it were one of life's most sacred connective tissues. " —Rob Humanick, Slant.com
"Rarely has ‘home-movie' material been used in such a clever yet moving way. I FOR INDIA reminds us all that there are real people behind the terms ‘immigrant' and ‘alien.' It's a must-see for everyone." —Eric Monder, Film Journal International
"★★★★ A great documentary... compelling." —Michael Ferraro, Film Threat.com
"A profound and profoundly moving film that any director could be proud of ; as a debut, it's formidably accomplished." Sight & Sound
"★★★★ A miraculous mini-epic... terrifically warm, watchable film-making." The Guardian
"Intimate and rewarding...almost unbearably moving." Justin Chang, Variety
"Emotionally gripping... smartly crafted and affecting." Anthony Kaufman, indieWIRE