Following the legacy of his deceased father, Amal Kumar (Rupinder Nagra) turned down a higher paying job at the post office to drive an auto-rickshaw on the streets of Dehli, India.Maneuvering daily through crowded streets daily to barely eke out a living, Amal is good natured to a fault, refusing to accept tips and always charging the meter rate.Shot on location in India by a Canadian and Indian crew, Richie Mehta’s low-budget feature Amal is a charming O’Henry-like tale about class, wealth, and family in India.
Cast: Rupinder Nagra, Naseeruddin Shah, Seema Biswas
It is a very worthy first effort that captures the frenetic street life of the city of Dehli and provides a sense of immediacy in the style of Michael Winterbottom, but without the hand-held camera clichÃ©.
When Amal refuses to accept a tip and offers cough drops to a gruff old man dressed in rags, G.K. Jayaram (Naseeruddin Shah), the man is convinced he has finally found a good man, a man of principle.When the old man dies suddenly, his family discovers that he has done something no one expected.Though we hear G.K. beautifully singing a traditional song in a cafÃ©, we are still astonished when the eccentric old man turns out to be a man of means who leaves his fortune to Amal, though the rickshaw driver remains totally unaware of these events.
The story concerns how the old man’s request is handled by his business partner Suresh (Roshan Seth), his lawyer Sapna Agarwal (Seema Biswas), and his scheming sons Harish (Siddhant Beh) and Vivek (Vik Sahay) who simply want what they feel is owed to them.G.K.’s will contains instructions that his assets will remain locked for thirty days until Amal can be found and the dead man’s attorney sets out to locate Amal, not an easy attack in a city with thousands of Amals.
Then again, it might be in his attorney’s best interests not to find him: if Amal doesn’t show up within thirty days, G.K.’s fortune will revert to his sons, with whom Suresh has a secret deal.A few subplots spice up the intrigue over the will but serve only to reinforce the film’s underlying message.
Filmed in English and Hindi, Amal was inspired by a real-life experience and story idea by his brother, Shaun Mehta.Together they turned it into a short and then expanded it into a full-length feature in time for the Toronto Film Festival in 2007.While its theme of happiness trumping wealth has been done many times, Amal feels original and an impressive performance from Toronto actor Nagra holds the film together.