Screen Play

Austin Film Festival Reviews

ABCD

D: Krutin Patel; with Madhur Jaffrey, Faran Tahir, Sheetal Sheth, Aasif Mandvi, David Ari, Jennifer Dorr White. (35mm, 105 min.)

Cultural identification and loss figure strongly here in writer/director/producer Krutin Patel's feature film debut, ABCD. ABCD revolves around Anju (Jaffrey), an Asian Indian immigrant living in the suburbs, and her first-generation adult children, Raj (Tahir) and Nina (Sheth). Anju is the stereotypical needling mom, nagging her children to sustain her Old World traditions; Raj and Nina's reactions represent two extremes -- unquestoning acceptance and violent rebellion. Raj is locked into a loveless arranged marriage, while Nina is just as trapped by her dogged (but unfulfilling) resistance to dating Indian men. ABCD itself tries to straddle the two conflicting worlds, but more compelling are the scenes in which Patel showcases his Indian roots. Renowned stage and screen actress (and bestselling cookbook author) Madhur Jaffrey excels as the mother who maybe loves a little too much. ABCD occasionally dips into melodrama, but Patel never lingers long there. Nicely shot at a gentle pace, and with a surprising, even unsettling conclusion that offers no easy answers, ABCD makes much of its complicated and culturally rich material. (Sat, Oct 14, 7:15pm, Dobie; Mon, Oct 16, 9:30pm, Dobie)

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