There’s nothing new about immigrants to America making compromises in their new country, but in the comic drama For Here or to Go?, the story gets a chai-infused, Silicon Valley–mired twist. After nearly a decade dutifully working at a major tech firm, software engineer (and Mumbai native) Vivek Pandit (Ali Fazal) is finally ready to break away, bring his disruptive idea to a startup, and realize his dreams. Stymied by the need to extend his work visa, though, Vivek is forced to confront what’s really important to him.
The complications are neatly layered, along with a host of cultural issues (food, gay rights, Indian regional rifts, love of country, love of family) and movie tropes (a love story, a buddy road trip, even a Bollywood-style dancing flash mob). It’s too often clear that the actors and their dialogue are in service of the points this film is making. Two in particular: that the U.S. has a serious immigration logistics problem and that, for some ambitious Indian tech entrepreneurs, there’s no place like home.
Still, especially for anyone tired of America’s immigration mess or the supremacy of Silicon Valley, it’s enjoyable spending some time with dreamy Vivek and Shveta (Melanie Kannokada, also known as Melanie Chandra), who are lovely together despite their clumsy communication. Side characters provide comedic relief, coincidences abound, and Vivek, finally, answers the question of where he thinks he belongs.
For Here or to Go?
Directed by Rucha Humnabadkar
Many Cups of Chai Films
Opens March 31, AMC Empire 25
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 31, 2017