I For India [subtitled in part]

I for India

I liked the description I read of I For India, and the general concept, more than it turned out I liked the movie itself.

It is a documentary about a family that emigrates from India to England in the 1960s. The father is a doctor. They keep in touch with their people back home by sending Super 8 films and audio tapes back and forth.

The more time passes, the more settled they get in England, though never really feeling at home there. Their family back in India constantly urges—at times begs—them to return. After about fifteen years they finally do, only to find that they really don’t fit in India either. So they return to England.

The story is told in part through the old home movies and tapes.

I really think it could have been organized better. It jumps around rather haphazardly from the old movies to contemporary footage, to occasional other material (e.g., old BBC specials on immigration). Had I not read a description of the movie in advance, the first ten minutes or so would have made no sense to me. I didn’t feel it was a good introduction to the body of the movie.

And the old movies were silent, so I found it confusing trying to keep straight the audio that played during them. Is it an audio tape sent in the same package as the footage we’re watching? Is it an audio tape from a different time period? Is it an audio tape coming from the other direction? (That is, when the video appears to be old movies of the family in England, is the accompanying audio sometimes from a tape sent by the family in India?) Is it a contemporary voiceover shot for this movie?

Granted, a lot of times it’s pretty easy to infer what it is. But not always.

Like I say, I like the underlying idea of telling this story with the old home movies and tapes. (It falls under the category of personal history, which is the kind of film I myself make.) But I don’t feel the people ever fully came alive. I cared about them, but not as much as I wanted to or had expected to. I was actually pretty bored for at least half of I For India.

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