‘For Here or to Go?’ is about immigration, assimilation and ‘what it takes to make a home away from home’

Writer Rishi Bhilawadikar talks to The American Bazaar about the movie, which reached theaters on March 31.

For Here or to Go?, a movie that depicts the struggles of those on H-1B visa, hit the theaters in the United States on March 31. Written by Rishi Bhilawadikar and directed by Rucha Humnabadkar, the film stars Ali Fazal, an Indian actor, and Indian American actor and model Melanie Chandra.

Prior to its theatrical release, the movie was screened at a number of festivals in the United States and abroad, including at the Washington, DC, South Asian Film Festival in September 2015. The American Bazaar spoke to Bhilawadikar, who himself was on H-1B visa when he wrote the screenplay, on the sidelines of DCSAFF.

Tell us about the movie For Here or to Go?

It’s a comedy about immigrants trying to decide where home is. I started writing this in 2010 based on my own entrepreneurial experiences as an immigrant and the challenges that I faced.  The story looks back at all types of immigrants and how they assimilate into this country and what it takes to make a home away from home.

What kind of feedback have you received from audiences who have seen the film?

The feedback has been tremendous and phenomenal. We’ve been blown away by the audiences in Australia, Canada and several US cities we have visited to promote the movie [prior to the release]. So many people can relate to the movie, and, as an artist, that is very satisfying because that means the movie can create a lot of dialogue and discussion.

What motivated you to enter the world of cinema?

My own entrepreneurial journey led me to try to get into my own incubator to set something up that would make difference in people’s lives. The experience I as well others faced motivated me to tell the story about the challenges that immigrants, who wanted to do well and succeed, faced.  Cinema is a tool for me to create empathy. There is no better platform then cinema because it brings people together and creates dialogue and ultimately humanizes a situation.

Can you tell me about your upcoming projects?

I cofounded a production company named Many Cups of Chai productions.  We are looking to tell stories that have not been told before and don’t get much coverage.

What advice do you have for aspiring Indian American filmmakers?

Keep at it. It’s very important and critical that these stories are brought to the wider audience and there are platforms like the DC South Asian Film Festival that highlight these stories. It’s not easy and there are challenges but it’s important to persevere and keep at it.

RELATED:

For Here or To Go?, which depicts the plight of H-1B workers, hits US theaters (April 1, 2017)

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