Bonus Content: Rental includes a 7-minute introduction from director Richie Mehta, who gives a personal tribute to Miller. Scroll down to watch.
Official Selection, 2007 Toronto International Film Festival
Richie Mehta’s 2007 debut feature is a powerful and heartfelt story of one man’s decency, and a vividly textured portrait of contemporary India.
In the streets of New Delhi, Amal (Rupinder Nagra), an auto-rickshaw driver, lets an irascible and seemingly poor old man (Naseeruddin Shah) dodge his fare — an act of generosity that will bring about far-reaching consequences.
A short time later, a passenger has her bag stolen from Amal’s auto rickshaw by a little girl, who then runs into traffic and is struck by a car. Amal takes the child to the hospital and assumes responsibility for her care, but it’s an expense he cannot afford. That irritable old man, meanwhile, has died, and is revealed to be the patriarch of a wealthy family. Disillusioned with his grasping children, he has willed his fortune to Amal, and his estate’s executor has 30 days to find one anonymous auto-rickshaw operator in a city of 14 million. If he is found, the young cutpurse can receive the care she needs. Familial machinations descend to vicious levels as the search for Amal plays out.
Canadian director Mehta, who also co-wrote the film, conveys a visceral feel for chaotic Delhi. Nuanced performances by some of India’s most revered and beloved actors — including Shah (Monsoon Wedding), Seema Biswas (Water), Roshan Seth (Such a Long Journey), and Koel Purie (White Noise) — enhance the film’s authenticity and immediacy. Nagra brings a captivating sense of wisdom to Amal.
_Amal_’s life-affirming story holds lingering vestiges of India’s caste system and examines a family in which wealth has created nothing other than a hunger for more. At the end of his life, the patriarch holds up a mirror to the world he inhabited as a tycoon but departed as an ascetic. Amal has always known something that the rich man only just learned: we are defined as much by what we sacrifice as by what we possess.
Content advisory: coarse language