Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Release date:
July 6, 2018
Rucha Humnabadkar
Ali Fazal, Rajit Kapur, Omi Vaidya, Melanie Kannokada
Hindi and English

It is almost embarrassing to have to review a film like this one. For Here Or To Go? feels, sounds and looks like the result you would get if someone handed a lot of pocket money and a camera to a not-so-bright kindergarten student. We all tend to be generous in our critiques of children’s work, but the dilemma here lies in the fact that director Rucha Humnabadkar is not a kid. Time for some tough love then, I guess?

For Here Or To Go? is the story of San Francisco-based software engineer Vivek Pandit (Ali Fazal) who is in a state of professional and social limbo because his US visa is on the verge of expiry. Vivek is surrounded by friends and acquaintances who are in immigration No Man’s Land, and the film is a call to Indians living abroad to not waste themselves on countries that are not particularly anxious to have them, when their own homeland would benefit greatly from their return.

Maybe there is a story there that needs to be told, but Humnabadkar is certainly not the person to be telling it. I would like to delve in detail into the directorial and writing nuances here, but unfortunately there are none. Often in the narrative you can see how the creator of this shipwreck may have thought she was being profound, such as in a conversation in which Vivek’s colleague Lakshmi (3 Idiots’ Omi Vaidya) finally reveals to his friends what was revealed to viewers early on, that he is gay, or when another friend, Amit (Amitosh Nagpal), speaks of the humiliation of flunking high school because of his poor English.

No doubt all this is meant to draw our sympathy for the social outcaste, but the film is too bad for it to matter. That it expects us to feel bad for its over-smart hero who was too cocky to treat his visa renewal with urgency is a bit much, especially when he goes all mawkish over a girl who changes her mind about being in a relationship with him when he tells her – after sleeping with her – that he may not be around in the US, which is her home, much longer.

In the midst of all this rambling around, senior actor Rajit Kapur plays a US-based business tycoon who is writing a book on why all Indians should go back home. I know there is a great intellectual point sought to be made through his boring ruminations, and again through the incomprehensible conversation he has with his daughter about a life-long misunderstanding between them, and the fact that three women in Vivek’s life are called Shweta, but I didn’t go searching for the meaning of any of these because they are poorly expressed and this film is such a waste of time. Nor will I strain myself too much to find out why Kapur agreed to be a part of it.

To describe For Here Or To Go? as mediocre would be a compliment. It is a pathetically written, terribly edited and directed film in which the dear young leading man gives it more of himself than it deserves. It must be a measure of Fazal’s struggle to get a foothold in filmdom that he has graced this whaddyacallit with his presence. It is infuriating to know that talented people like him and so many promising directors and writers have to fight so hard to make it, while others get funds to churn out full-length cinematic travesties like For Here Or To Go?.

The sweet boy from Fukrey deserves better than this non-starter.

Rating (out of five stars): 0 stars

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
1hour 45 minutes 

This review has also been published on Firstpost:

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