December 19, 2010

Slash Slash Burn

Can't get Aasif Mandvi's Today's Special out of my head, not because it totally works for me as a movie but because its sous-chef character, who works in a haute-cuisine Manhattan restaurant and lives in a swank Manhattan apartment, has parents--no, more relevantly to the film, a father, who runs a failing Tandoori restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens.

It is how this basic premise is resolved in the movie that I don't care for much. (Of course, I don't care all that much for father's-legacy-and-son sagas either, but, for the sake of argument, let's say I'm okay with all the patrimonial bonding I'm about to take you through.) But look at the premise itself. There is the American Dream, the immigrant dream. It may change as newcomers to the US of A become old-timers, not necessarily for the worse and not always in a linear direction. Does the Dream/dream possess/infect their children?

The glam successful assimilated first-generation desi may not be found taking photographs of/with the Statue of Liberty, like his father did upon first arriving in the US a generation ago, but he is just one remove away from the photographs, from framing then mounting them on the wall. The photographs of his father, Statue of Liberty in the background, don't represent for him the same Dream/dream as for his father. The photographs encode for him a linked Dream/dream, a chained Dream/dream, a Dream/dream at a remove.

So Manhattan links up to Queens and haute-cuisine restaurant links up to Tandoori restaurant. I find these links productive. Montage-vision, which will produce a more real image of diasporic realities.

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