BINGE WATCHED BROWN NATION ON NETFLIX

You know how Netflix makes recommendations for you? That is how I discovered Brown Nation. At first I overlooked their suggestion since I had no clue what Brown Nation was all about.And then I succumbed out of sheer curiosity and was hooked. Part of the reason for being hooked is the way the series captured the desi elements in an authentic way complete with a sprinkling of Punjabi, Gujarati, Malayalam and Tamil. Oh! And there is a fair amount of Bollywood reference that should appeal to your desi heart.

The series may remind some of you of NBC’s TV show Outsourced, which essentially had an American cast and was about an American’s company’s back office in India. Brown Nation differs from Outsourced in a couple of ways: the cast is a mix of Indian and American actors and the series is about the existential crisis of an American IT company in America. And, the other thing that is different about Brown Nation is that it has a distinct East Coast perspective and I say this after having lived on both sides of the coast.

I ended up binge watching the 10 part series of Brown Nation about an Indian American business family in New York. Hasmukh (Rajeev Varma) owns a small IT consulting company and his wife Dimple (Shehnaz Treasury), who is is working hard to get a break as an actor. Calling Hasmukh an entrepreneur is a bit of a stretch since his company barely makes any revenue and yet he has a small retinue of workers, who try to keep themselves busy. The show essentially is about your everyday life in America told through the lives of Hasmukh and his wife and their pet doggie Bobby.

The people who shine in Brown Nation are Shehnaz Treasury, Remy Munasifi and Omi Vaidya. And kudos to the creators of Brown Nation Abi Varghese, George Kannat and Matt Grubb.

I guess there will be a second season of Brown Nation. Wonder how that will pan out since Hasmukh’s little IT company is at an inflection point. Will his company pivot? We will have to wait to find out.

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Film Notes: Two Sides of the Desi Coin: “For Here or To Go?” And “Miss India America”

Miss India America

Miss India America

Two Indian-American films had their world premiere at Silicon Valley’s Cinequest Film Festival (Feb 24-Mar 8, 2015)  this weekend – “Miss India America,” and “For Here or To Go?” The films are made by Indian-American filmmakers from California. “Miss India America,” is set in Southern California, while “For Here or To Go?” is set in Silicon Valley and is about the techie community in the valley.

Both films got a standing ovation from the audience. It is apt that the films had their premiere at this festival since San Francisco bay area is home to over quarter million Indian-Americans. Interestingly, both films raised part of their funding through crowdsourcing platforms. “Miss India America,” used Kickstarter to crowdsource their fund, while  “For Here or To Go,” went the Indiegogo route.

For Here or To Go

For Here or To Go

The films show two sides of the desi coin. It is not often that  you get to see two different sides of the Indian-American community in the USA at a film festival. If “Miss India America,” spotlights the second generation Indian-Americans and how they assimilate and deal with their teenage angst then “For Here or To Go?” concentrates on the experience of new immigrants in America. The film shows the other side of the equation and what it takes to get that coveted green card, which puts you on a path to become an American citizen and owning that home with a white picket fence.  The path to realizing your American dream is fraught with all sorts of unexpected challenges is what the film hightlighs. Continue reading

Video: Omi Vaidya on “For Here or To Go,” Films and Cinequest

Actor Omi Vaidya’s film “For Here or To Go?” will have its world premiere at Silicon Valley’s Cinequest Film Festival this evening. We caught up with the actor last night at Cinequest to talk about his new film, working in Bollywood and his future plans.

For Here or To Go?” captures the angst and uncertainties of young immigrant workers in America. The film is set in Silicon Valley and highlights the unsettling nature of  working on a H1B visa, also known as a work visa. Many of them put their ambitions  and lives on hold given the uncertain nature of their immigrant status. For example, you cannot do a startup when you are on a work visa. The film highlights the other side of the equation of what happens when someone is on H1B and what it takes for them to survive and fulfill their dreams. Not everybody who comes on a H1B visa gets a green card. The one constant refrain in any immigrant life is do they stay in America or go back to their country of origin. Continue reading