Reviewing the SF Film Fest: Mohandas

The San Francisco International Film Festival is running now until May 7. "Mohandas" is one of the movies featured.

I’m biased.  As a brown person (i.e. from the Indian subcontinent; I’m Pakistani) I am overjoyed when I see a South Asian film that steps away from your traditional Bollywood “masterpiece,” you  know, by having substantial real life plot.  Regular Bollywood ish, though?  These grand kitsch-fests usually entail some poor boy falling in love with some rich girl, and then her dad is like, “no,” and the girl is like, “I don’t care, dad.  I can do what I want” and elopes with dude and it’s totally groundbreaking. 

Chockfull of random action scenes (with sound effects that sound like a kid banging on pots and pans in his basement), overacting, almost-kissing, and running through fields behind transparent fluorescent colored scarves, Bollywood epically underwhelms me.  Minor note: it’s been about 10 years since I really got down with Bollywood so my description might be a bit off – but not too far off – give or take some.  Seriously.

I just wrote way too much about Bollywood.

Anyway.  "Mohandas" is about a man of humble roots, that despite being at the top of his graduating class in college, ends up jobless in a village with his young child, aging mother, and wife.  Why?  Because he’s a victim of what he soon finds is a grandiose scheme of identity theft.

The story really sucked me in and brought me to empathize with the characters, taking me through the many cycling emotions of Mohandas as his struggles between fighting, indifference, seclusion, and just plain hurt.  The experience of those around him and how they are affected is depicted very well also. 

The stench of corruption becomes palpable as the plot thickens with abrupt turns of events towards the end.  Initially, these changes felt thrown in and a bit contrived without much background or build-up.  But soon I came to realize and appreciate the point: the most fickle, small, and random details can have some of the most profound effects on our lives.

Seher Sikandar is a Bay Area-based  artist, photographer and writer who covers art and lifestyle events. Check out her portfolio at

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