Director Interview: The Road Home

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Like two peas in a TCK pod, my interview with director Rahul Gandotra felt more like a conversation between old friends. He began by insisting that I detail my laundry list of homes while he then attempted (mostly in vain) to memorize every city that I have ever lived in. It was a remarkable gesture and it set the tone for the rest of the inter/sation. I did not even get a chance to glance at my prepared questions as we flowed from topic to topic. Gandotra is a gregarious person, and our two hour discussion covered everything from cultural issues and societal constructions to romance, jet lag, and food.

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.

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Pico, the protagonist: credit "The Road Home" website
The opening of the film is particularly striking as the protagonist, who is ethnically Indian, appears on screen in white face. It was a perfect way to express how the little boy feels internally and how this self-perception is challenged by his appearance. This was actually a continuation of a cut scene but it definitely had the strength to stand alone. The director also wrote some of his own quirks into the main character such as a discomfort with Indian food and a lack of understanding the local language. He added some wicked commentary on foreigners assimilating into the Indian identity despite having no ethnic, national, or cultural ties.

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.

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"The Road Home" is a film about a little boy named Pico who has been shipped off to a boarding school in the Himalayas. Having grown up in England and being culturally British, he is teased and bullied by other students who do not understand why he does not accept his Indian heritage. They insist on labelling him while removing his ability to self-identify. Pico eventually decides to run away and return to his family in the U.K. Along the way, he encounters various groups of people from all backgrounds who continue to resist his perception of himself as British. Follow Pico to find out whether he makes it to New Delhi and if he learns to ignore all of the voices clamoring to label him. Find the trailer above and if you go to the official website, you can watch the whole short film for free

Gandotra plans on directing a full length feature that hazily centers around the same premise but with lots more chase scenes, action, and intrigue.


*SPOILER ALERT*



*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! 
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  • Guest
    asalvesen Friday, 16 May 2014

    Istanbul's been on my bucket list for a while ...

    Istanbul's been on my bucket list for a while now and I'm excited to have found this practical guide! I have friends headed there next month, and I'll definitely share it with them. Now if I could just find a way to hide in their suitcase. :)

  • Guest
    Dorilyl Monday, 05 May 2014

    A school must be careful in all of the things that...

    A school must be careful in all of the things that they will be doing in order for them to avoid regrets and other unnecessary things that may happen into their school.

  • Guest
    Suki F Monday, 28 April 2014

    I love photo posts. Thanks for sharing!

    I lovephoto posts. Thanks for sharing!

  • Guest
    Richard Haynes Wednesday, 09 April 2014

    Sounds like he's picked up the TCK trick of dr...

    Sounds like he's picked up the TCK trick of drawing out new acquaintances by asking them about themselves.

  • Guest
    Expat Alien Wednesday, 09 April 2014

    I loved this film. I can hardly wait for his next ...

    I loved this film. I can hardly wait for his next one!

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