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ME POWAIKAR July 2018

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Rishi Bhilawadikar

Decades ago in a little known nursing home near IIT was born our Powaikar, young Rishi. Who knew the route this little lad’s life would take and swing him through tumultuous times till he finally found his true vocation in life. Courtesy his Colonel father’s frequent postings, Rishi spent a significant part of childhood in the environs of the Shraddhamata society with his maternal grandparents who doted on their very first grandchild.

Story telling came to him naturally. As a child he would regale any willing audience. His fantasies were adventurous, full of laughter and riveting and would always leave the audience asking for more. Soon the little boy grew up, completed his education and flew to the US for a Masters program following which he worked following which he worked with the dream companies of Silicon Valley.

He was always leaping into imaginary worlds interspersed with real life experiences that he and his friends faced. What started as a blog, “Stuff Desis Like” metamorphosed into a script & into a self produced independent film that has the unique credentials of International theatrical release. This independent film maker & his journey is fascinating. 

Driven by his own experiences as an immigrant entrepreneur, the film was made to bring wide-scale awareness and inspire action for change by humanizing this critical yet inadequately represented topic. Today it’s been released in cinemas in the USA and enjoyed houseful shows alongside mainstream releases like Bahubali!!

It has had special screenings at the US House of Representatives at the White House and for the Ambassador of India to the US. To his credit the script has been invited by the Academy Awards Library. For the uninitiated, it’s the Academy that confers the Oscars.

For a film to be selected for a festival itself is remarkable and FHTG won accolades at 17 film festivals in UK, Australia, Canada besides US and including MAMI in India. It won the Jury award at Seattle and enjoyed the opening slot at Orlando.

Rishi himself is on work visa and has worked as a user experience designer for global brands like Gap Inc., Wal-Mart e-Commerce, and SAP. With no prior training in writing or film-making, this film was made by application of design thinking and principles of lean entrepreneurship-techniques commonly used to build technology products.

Here’s a synopsis of the film, FOR HERE OR TO GO? 
Young Silicon Valley software engineer Vivek Pandit is poised to become a key hire at a promising health care start-up, but the offer disappears when they realize his work visa expires in a year. Having learned the hard way about the flaws in his “it’s just paper work “mentality, Vivek battles forces beyond his control to get his visa extended, at his existing company or new job. Along the way, his eyes are opened to similar struggles of his own roommates and others.

Just as the prospect of returning home to India starts to look tempting, Vivek meets a girl worth the fight to keep the life he has built in America. A comedy drama about Indian aspirations, it’s American in mind and Indian in heart, a contemporary story of ambition and ambivalence fuelled by one’s immigration status that characterizes the dilemma of modern cultural displacement. Set against the raging debate of H1 B visa this comedy drama couldn’t be better timed.

The film is now being released in India on 06 July, 18 through PVR cinemas. For a film that made it this far without any aid from a production house or financier, we the ordinary citizens must help by doing our bit. Go catch it at a PVR theatre near you to encourage young Rishi.