|Director: Manan Singh Katohora|
|Starring: Samrat Chakrabarti, Manvi Dhoopar, Sheetal Shah, Tirlok Malik, Manan Katohora|
|Released: May 24, 2005|
|by Pauleen Arneja|
Darkness and mystery lead the audience through this suspense thriller directed by newcomer Manan Singh Katohora. Arya had me intrigued because of its name and the marketing surrounding it. Having that pre-set expectation in my mind, I was into the film from the point of pressing play on my DVD player onwards. The film is centered around the character of Raj Singh (Samrat), an average American Desi living in New York who has a decent job and a beautiful girlfriend.
During a planned business trip to California, while observing a lecture by a math professor, Raj all of a sudden develops the ability of a math whiz and begins debating the professor's interpretation of the great Aryabhatta's mathematics. From this point onwards, chaos surrounds Raj when unexplainable and irrational things start happening to him.
The film deals with difficult subject matter relating to reincarnation, schizophrenia, brain disorders, and out of body experiences. Soon enough, you begin to wonder which one of these things Raj is dealing with. Each incident has you jumping from conclusion to another. I'll leave the rest up to you to figure out as you watch the film.
The film showcases solid performances from its director and the entire cast. You can tell that this is a home-grown effort and a lot of hard work was put into making it a reality. For that fact alone, we should all watch this film to support and nurture young, ambitious talent.
The plot of the film had me guessing at times, due its complex nature. But this kept me at the curious side, rather than the confused side. The direction was a good effort as this was Katohora's very first feature film. The acting was complimented by the three main leads, Samrat Chakrabarti, Manvi Dhoopar and Shetal Shah, who won the Best Actress award at the recent South Asian Media Awards (desiclub.com/awards).
I was particularly impressed by Samrat Chakrabarti's performance in one scene as an obsessed Yogi who is chanting Sanskrit atop a roof. Watching that scene gave me shivers. The other supporting actors and actresses didn't impress me too much, maybe it was because of the nature of their small roles, but they gave the film an amateurish feeling to it, rather than follow the standard set by its three main leads. Samrat, Manvi and Shetal carried the film all the way and this shows to their good acting capabilities. Manan's character added a good amount of humor to the film, but it also took away from the dark and suspenseful side of the plot.
The movie, all in all, is definitely worth a watch, and as I said, we must watch this film and support all South Asian talent taking such bold risks in America.
Now, go and grab a friend, turn off the lights and watch it!