INDIA SWEETS AND SPICESDirected by Geeta Malik
Cast: Adil Hussain, Manisha Koirala, Rish Shah, Sophia Ali
Official Selection, 2021 Tribeca Film Festival
UCLA student Alia is a social feminist——she’ll throw a hell of a kegger in the name of activism. It’s not just that she’s a college student finding her way. It’s that she’s from Ruby Hill, New Jersey, a fictional desi bling empire, where weekend parties are a way of life, only they’re thrown by super-rich parents looking for excuses to buy new designer saris and pooh-pooh the proletariat. Alia and her pot-smoking friends share a mutual disgust for their parents’ excesses, all while turning out every week to serve samosas and prep boatloads of biscuits from the Indian market.
On one such trip to the market, Alia spots a devastatingly handsome stock clerk, Varun, and the two lock eyes with the kind of magma-shifting magnetism reserved for hot people and Bollywood lovers. Determined to stock a boatload of Varun biscuits, Alia invites him and his grocery store-owning parents to the next Ruby Hill mansion party, much to the repulsion and shock of Alia’s pearl-clutching mother. But when Varun and Alia’s mothers lock eyes, it sets off a different kind of tectonic shift. The two have a past——one that Alia’s mother is too rich to acknowledge and that will change the way Alia sees herself and her mother as women in a crazy rich world.
Director Geeta Malik (Troublemaker, SDAFF ’11) pulls the curtain on the gilded life, not just to lampoon (though she does that, deliciously) but to reveal the unique mysteries of immigrant families—the passions left an ocean away and the political baggage that comes (or gets dropped) with education, assimilation, and newfound community.