Outgoing and inquisitive, like many Third Culture Kids, Gandotra focused as equally on my background as he did on his film "The Road Home". The film was shortlisted for the 2012 Academy Awards and was directed by Gandotra as his thesis presentation for a Master's Degree from the London Film School. Similar to Pico, Gandotra was born and partly raised in the UK before being sent to a boarding school in India. The same boarding school from this film. He continued to bounce around and is now (temporarily) settled(ish) in London.
This is a particularly poignant film for international students, military brats, diplobrats, and other TCKs. Gandotra channeled his own experiences into creating a film that explored the issues of identity, nationality, and racism. There are not many films that so accurately depict what many TCKs go through; namely the removal of our ability to identify ourselves. Whatever we may appear ethnically or whatever our passports might say, we grew up in a multitude of cultures that put together still do not fully encompass where we are from.
|Pico, the protagonist: credit "The Road Home" website|
In "The Road Home" Gandotra addresses the issue of being an invisible immigrant. This is Pico's internal primary conflict and one he struggles with during the entire length of the film. This is a struggle that many TCKs experience when they return to their passport or heritage countries. When you look like you belong, locals tend to judge you more harshly when you fall short because you did not meet their expectations. This was an issue that Gandotra struggled with even when he returned to India as an adult to shoot this movie.
|Making his escape: credit "The Road Home" website|
Gandotra plans on directing a full length feature that hazily centers around the same premise but with lots more chase scenes, action, and intrigue.
*STOP SCROLLING IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE END*
Some people who saw the end of the film thought that Pico's return to the school and his brushing off of the bullies was due to the fact that he accepted his Indian heritage. In the interests of full disclosure, Gandotra did express that this was not what he intended by the ending. His directorial intention was to show that Pico no longer cared how others perceived him because he had gained confidence in himself. Pico knows who he is and where he is actually from so it does not matter what other people think or believe.
The ending was supposed to be a commentary on how while we cannot stop someone from making snap judgements, we can stay true to who we know we are and the identity that we claim ourselves. That was for you Gandotra!