Running Time: 105 Minutes
ABCD is the story of Raj and Nina, first generation Asian Indian immigrant children who have grown up in America, and their mother, Anju, who is desperately trying in her old age to reconcile her decision to come to America long ago.
Nina, bright and beautiful, strong headed and promiscuous, uses sex as a shield to avoid intimacy. She is still rebelling against the conservative Hindu values of her mother. Nina detests the Indian custom of arranged marriages so she exclusively dates American white men believing that all Indian men have nothing to offer her. Her attitude changes when her mother arranges a meeting with Ashok, a childhood friend from India who has recently immigrated to the US. He offers her the emotional intimacy she has never felt before, yet she is uneasy about the relationship. Her life is complicated when an old flame, Sam, reenters her life. Though Sam and Nina are not an ideal match, he offers her a social position in life; a rich white husband who makes Nina feel more comfortable in the culture, makes her feel more American. Each man, representing the two cultures, pulls at Nina, trapping her in a tug of war.
Nina's brother Raj is her polar opposite. He is quietly intelligent and emotionally very distant. He long ago agreed to an arranged marriage to Tejal, a sweet and trusting Indian woman who has been in this country for only a few years. Raj is a successful mid-level accountant, vying for a promotion. When he is passed over, it is for a less gifted accountant, his best friend Brian. Raj knows he is a better accountant, a harder worker and more deserving of the job. He feels his race may have something to do with it, but he cannot be sure about the motives of his superiors. A new coworker, Julia, catches Raj's eye. She is an ordinary middle class woman who completely connects with Raj. Raj must choose between the two women. He feels deeply affectionate towards Tejal but does not love her. Yet he cannot break up with Tejal because that would destroy her life since no other conservative Indian boy would touch her. Out of that fear, he does not develop a full relationship with Julia even though it is something they both desperately crave.
Anju, who is Raj and Nina's widowed mother is the third piece of this puzzle. Aged and widowed, she is desperately trying to cling to her children by controlling their lives. She pushes Raj hard for the promotion that he will never get and ignores the overly long engagement of Raj and Tejal, only looking forward to their wedding day sometime in the future. She constantly confronts Nina about her promiscuity, believing her daughter will ultimately come around and find a suitable Indian boy.
ABCD revolves around characters who are culturally lost. They can no longer fully adhere to the customs of the country they have left behind, and yet do not belong to the mainstream American culture because of their ethnicity. The film also explores what happens to people in America who are neither white or black Americans but who fall somewhere in between. ABCD deals with the emotional consequences of growing up without a firm cultural identity.
KRUTIN PATEL was born in 1966 in Ahmedabad, India and at the age of eight immigrated with his family to the U.S. He graduated from New York University in 1988 with a dual major in film and finance. While studying at NYU, Mr. Patel produced his first short film, Strangers In The Night. Mr. Patels unique visual approach to the film (using bright, saturated colors for a film-noir plot) resulted in several awards and an extensive article in the American Cinematographer magazine.
Upon graduation, Mr. Patel traveled and worked throughout Europe producing country by country profiles of 13 different nations. Mr. Patel has also worked as a technical director and segment producer for the Bombay Broadcasting Network (BBN) which produced a weekly Indian television program broadcast throughout the U.S. Most recently he has worked for A&E, The History Channel and Food Network, three of Americas leading cable networks.
In 1994, Mr. Patel co-authored the screenplay and makes his feature film directing debut with ABCD.
Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Ms. Jaffrey has worked extensively in film and stage.
Most recently, Ms. Jaffrey starred in the Merchant Ivory Production, Cotton Mary. She has also been featured in other Merchant Ivory productions including Heat and Dust, The Guru and Shakespeare Wallah. Her notable film credits also include Louis Malle's Vanya On 42nd Street, Six Degrees of Separation and The Assam Garden. She has appeared extensively on Broadway as well as in the highly acclaimed BBC productions of Peacock Springs, Firm Friends, A Wanted Man, and The Bloodless Arena.
Ms. Jaffrey is also a world renowned chef. She currently resides in New York City.
Faran Tahir was most recently nominated for "Best Actor" at the 2001 Methodfest Film Festival for his portrayal of Raj in "ABCD."
Faran has worked extensively in film, theatre and television. His film credits include A Price above Rubies, Jungle Book and Picture Perfect. On television, he has had reoccurring roles on Family Law, Party of Five, and As the World Turns. He has made guest star appearances on primetime network shows including Alias, The Practice, Law and Order, NYPD Blue, New York Undercover, The Pretender, and Freaky Links.
Some of his Off-Broadway and regional theatre credits include Nirad Das in Indian Ink at Studio Theatre (Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Actor), King Bahram in Mirror of the Invisible World, Oberon/Theseus in Midsummer Nights Dream, Aram Tomasian in Beast on the Moon and the title role in A Perfect Ganesh at Actors Theatre of Louisville. He has been featured in the summer repertory at Lincoln Center, Arabian Nights at Manhattan Theatre Club, Macbeth, and L.A. Plays at American Repertory Theatre. He received training in acting at Harvard Universitys Institute for Advanced Theatre Training.
Faran Tahir was born in Los Angeles to Pakistani parents, Naeem and Yasmin Tahir. Faran currently resides in San Diego, California.
ABCD marks the feature film debut of Sheetal Sheth. An alumnus of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Sheetal is a rising star among the talented pool of South Asian actors working today. Since filming ABCD, Sheetal has gone on to star in four upcoming Indo-American Independent films including American Chai, Wings of Hope, Pocketful of Dreams, and Somewhere in India. On television, Sheetal landed a supporting role in NBCs made for television film, "The Princess and the Marine."
Sheetal was born in Phillipsburg, New Jersey to Rashmi and Rekha Sheth who are both from Gujarat, India. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Aasif Mandvi is an experienced film, television, and theater actor. His film credits include the title role in the Merchant Ivory film, The Mystic Masseur based on the novel by V.S. Naipaul. Additional film credits include The Siege, Analyze This, Die Hard With A Vengeance, American Chai, Peroxide Passion, and At The End Of The Day. His television work includes appearances on Sex And The City, Law And Order, Nash Bridges, Welcome To New York, and Oz.
Aasif received an OBIE Award for his one man Off Broadway show Sakinaa Restaurant which has been performed in New York, Los Angeles, and London. His other theater credits include Death Defying Acts, Suburbia, and Trudy Blue.
Asian-Indians represent the most recent wave of immigrants coming to America. Like the Irish, Italians, Chinese, and Japanese immigrants before them, the Indian community is striving to integrate itself into the vast melting pot that is America, and in doing so is struggling to find a balance between the culture it left behind and the newly adopted land they now call home.
It has been over 25 years since this migration of Indians began in earnest. In that time, Indians first established themselves economically and now are striving for a greater presence in the social culture. ABCD offers a first opportunity for Indian artists in front of and behind the camera to tell their story and establish a popular cultural record of their experience.
For the most part, the Indian community has had no significant representations in the popular arts of this country. The current depiction of Indian characters on television and movies is limited to that of an occasional cab driver or news stand vendor or the convenience store owner. Even these depictions are usually limited to a single scene within a TV show or film.
It is the hope of the Indian artists involved in this production to create an accurate portrayal of our community and our specific growing-pains as we struggle to strike a balance between the culture we left behind and our new home. With the Indian community over a million people strong, it is our hope that ABCD will create a market for Indian films and the first wave of artists it has cultivated.
The filmmakers further hope to create exposure for Indian actors and film-makers with the long term goal of realizing a market for Indian artists. With the accurate portrayal of Indian characters in the film, the film will counter the common stereotypes of Indians that are prevalent in the media today and establish itself as a popular cultural record of the Indian community as it exists today.
The critical community has always supported and acknowledged films which address current social issues. Critics often take on the responsibility of providing exposure to projects such as ABCD. In turn recent success of Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman, Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, and the work of John Singleton and Spike Lee, the American audience has demonstrated its support for more ethnically diverse films.
In recent years, there have been a few films with Indian characters including Gandhi, City Of Joy, Madam Schuztka and Salaam Bombay. However, the difference has been that none have focused on the Indian Immigrant community as it exists in the United States today.
The release of ABCD, will play a fundamental role in increasing the cultural profile of the Indian community.