Political Film Society - Newsletter #178 - September 15, 2003

September 15, 2003


Green Card Fever
, directed by Bala Rajasekharuni, is an exposé of the illegal and unethical traps of the immigration process in the United States, as seen through the experience of an Indian named Murali (played by Vikram Dasu). When the film begins, Murali is in Columbus, Ohio. He has dropped out of a dance troupe, hoping to find a job and to get a green card in six months. Although he has a place to stay, the apartment is a way station for the continual traffic of Indians overstaying their visas. When he tries to apply for a job, his passport is seized by Parvesh (played by Kaaizad Kotwal), who operates Project Mitra, an underground organization that pretends to get green cards but in actuality works as an employment agency that nets a percentage of the salaries of the illegals. In Murali's case, Parvesh's cut at first is 100 percent. At one of the employment sites, a marriage bureau for Indian Americans seeking large profits for weddings arranged with the illegals, Murali meets Bharathi (played by Purva Bedi), a sassy Americanized Indian who does not want her parents to marry her off as if she were merely a piece of property. In a defiant mood because of her parents' mercenary ambitions, she is rude to Murali, who in turn is polite and does not get flustered when she is impertinent. Impressed that Murali is so well mannered, Bharathi is delighted when he happens to visit a pet store where she is a part-time clerk. Soon she attends the birthday party of her American boyfriend Patrick (played by Nick Baldasare), but he and his friends are rude, showing their ignorance and stereotypes of the customs of India. Bharathi then flees from the party to visit Murali, a man more after her own heart, and she starts to behave nicely. However, Parvesh and an attorney Chan (played by Robert Lin) are organizing a scam to sue Americanized Sikh Omjeet Singh Purewal (played by Deep Katdare), who in turn is trying to bust up the illegal activities of Project Mitra. Parvesh prevails on Murali to testify falsely in court against Om but unwisely does not give him his passport so that the judge will have some basis to authenticate Murali's identity. Soon, Murali is escorted out of court, arrested as an illegal; on his way to jail, Bharathi hands him a paper containing the word "LIAR." While in jail, a prison guard subjects Murali to physical abuse, which brings him to his senses. When he reappears in court, he exposes the scam. The INS judge (played by David Alan Shaw) then remands the case to INS attorneys for future litigation, offering Murali a work permit so that he can stay in the country to testify against Parvesh and Chan. Murali and Bharathi end up in each other's arms at the end of the film. The Political Film Society has nominated Green Card Fever as an exposé that warns illegal aliens and others to beware of the scams that trap those with little knowledge of the labyrinthine maze of the immigration process in the United States. MH

The Iranian revolution of 1979 repudiated the rule of the Shah, in part because windfall revenues from oil went to crony capitalists while the rest of the population lived in poverty. Nearly twenty-five years later, the Shah is gone but poverty remains, including the associated ill of prostitution, and the subtext of many Iranian films is that once again the regime is responsible. Twilight, directed by Hasan Hedayat, is no exception. Mohammad Alavi (played by Ezzatollah Entezami), a homicide inspector approaching 70, is unhappy. His wife died early in their marriage, and his children are absent from his life. All that he does in his workaholic existence (resembling BBC's Inspector Morse) is to look at dead bodies and then to try to find out who is responsible. Two bodies provide the latest mystery for him, especially since one contains a woman's photograph that lists two telephone numbers on the reverse side, and the other has the same photograph, framed and larger, which is posted in the dead man's photo studio. One of the two telephone numbers is that of Alavi's home, which baffles him. The other number is of a café that he often frequents. According to the owner of the café, the dead woman is Pari, who was a drug addict and informant for a notorious gangster, Darbandi (played by Ahmad Majafi) who in turn is pressuring her to sell her café--or else. Although Pari's death is doubtless due to the gangster, without proof there is no arrest. Possibly because Alavi's cannot find a connection with the dead woman whom he does not recognize, Alavi becomes delusionary, seeing visions of his wife Farangis (played by Ghaziani) and two children as well as the dead woman and many others. Through his visions, he solves the mystery about the dead woman's identity, but that appears to be after he dies. Yet another subtext in the film, which figures into the unraveling of the mystery, is about the prejudice of Moslems toward Christian Armenians in Iran. Accordingly, the Political Film Society has nominated Twilight for an award as best film on human rights for 2003. MH

Kevin Yenerall's Surveying Social Justice in American Films: Civil Rights, Labor Struggles & Gay Rights is the 29th contribution to the Political Film Society's Working Paper Series. His contribution is the 17th in the Syllabus Series. To obtain copies of any of the Working Papers or Syllabi, send a check to the Political Film Society at the above address. Working Papers are available for a donation of $5 each. Each contribution to the Syllabus Series is available for $1. CLICK HERE for more.