Review: ‘Amu’

A 21-year-old second generation Indian American woman struggles for acceptance in both countries, while discovering a long-buried family secret revolving around the riots following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's 1984 assassination, in uneven meller "Amu."

A 21-year-old second generation Indian American woman struggles for acceptance in both countries, while discovering a long-buried family secret revolving around the riots following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s 1984 assassination, in uneven meller “Amu.” Admirably idealistic but dramatically awkward, self-conscious pic may get issue-fuelled engagements and foreign theatrical deals, but seems most likely to work Stateside on the tube or in homevid.

In 2002, recent UCLA grad Kaju (Konkona Sensharma), orphaned by malaria, returns to Delhi to visit family there. In time, she learns the true story of her origins, which transpired during the hot-button slaughter of some 5,000 Sikhs and alleged government cover-up of a massacre in the wake of the Gandhi murder. Debuting director Shonali Bose was 19 when the tragedy occurred, and brings passion to the project. Yet often pretentious dialogue is strewn with teenspeak and overmodulated thesping. Pic works better during flashbacks of rioting, as muscular sound mix evokes urban chaos. Tech credits are pro. Per helmer, pic was funded in part from the proceeds husband and co-producer Atiya Bose realized from a minicam patent. Penguin India tapped Bose to expand the screenplay into a novel.

Amu

India

Production

A Jonai production. (International sales: Jonai, New Delhi.) Produced by Shonali Bose, Aidan Hill, Atiya Bose. Directed, written by Shonali Bose.

Crew

Camera (color), Lourdes Ambrose; editor, Bob Brooks; music, Nandlal Nayak. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 15, 2005. English, Hindi, Bengali dialogue. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Konkona Sensharma, Brinda Karat, Ankur Khanna, Chaiti Ghosh, Aparna Roy.
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