By Balkaran Singh
After five years of her husband Ali (Nicholas Guilak) living in LA as he tries to make a life for himself, while she is left at his parent’s house in Pakistan to take care of them, Shaheen (Roopashree Jevaji) leaves all she has known her entire life and travels to LA to live with her husband, without having informed him of her arrival.
She is in for a shock.
What follows is a short odyssey for Shaheen – she is mugged outside the airport right after landing in LA, stranded outside her husband’s closed workplace (a restaurant) unable to pay the fare, makes a brief friend in Victor (Avi Nash), the taxi driver, himself a young immigrant who seemingly understands her plight, buys her dinner while she waits for her husband’s restaurant to open.
Shaheen’s stolen bag, though, becomes the red thread in the story, connecting lives and bringing people together, and in case of this short, also taking them apart. The bag is invisibly essential to the script, and it is utilised well by director Danish Renzu, who has also co-written the screenplay. As capable Renzu’s guidance is, there seem to be a few gaps within the short, and that takes away from the film’s poise – while there are moments when one might applaud his transitions into scenes, there are also some questionable ones.
And the shock? During an exchange with Ali’s boss Jenny (Jennifer Nichols), Shaheen finds about Ali’s new wife, Green (Jessica Morris) – Ali has apparently been married with Green for the past year, as part of an arrangement for him to get his Green Card, and during that period, both Ali and Green have crossed emotional and physical boundaries making their relationship (arrangement) quite complicated. Green’s and Shaheen’s paths also converge, via Shaheen’s stolen bag, and somehow both these women find emancipation from Ali.
As for the artistes, one can easily judge the calibre of individual talent as Jevaji and Morris produce very convincing performances. Guilak and Nash do too, however their impressions of Pakistani and South American accents, respectively, don’t substantiate their characters, and the former’s delivery his one line in Urdu is far from persuasive. But there are more than a few redeeming qualities in individual performances and the film. In its entirety, In Search of America, Inshallah is quite good, and has more than enough substance to sustain our desire to be entertained, and perhaps learn.
Besides consulting in the cultural, creative and communication spheres, Balkaran engages in social-justice and political drives. And writes. Among other things.