“Mango Dreams,” a film telling the story of colliding religions and relationships and budding cross-cultural bridges, will be shown in a free public screening at East Tennessee State University on Monday, Feb. 6.
Presented by ETSU’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, the screening will begin at 7 p.m. in the D.P. Culp University Center’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium, followed by a question-and-answer session and reception with filmmaker John Upchurch.
In this independent narrative film, a Hindu doctor with dementia and a Muslim auto rickshaw driver form an unlikely friendship as they make a 1,000-mile sojourn across India in an auto rickshaw.
Dr. Amit Singh, the physician, longs to make peace with his troubled childhood and homeland before dementia erases his memories and his son puts him in a nursing home. The driver, Salim, has his own troubled history of cultural conflicts. While the tensions of religion and history initially create problems for the journey, in the end, Amit and Salim help each other find the peace they have both been longing for.
“‘Mango Dreams’ is an entertaining movie with a universal story, with equal parts laughter and tears, and an overall sense of hope,” says Upchurch, director/writer/producer of the film. “People should watch ‘Mango Dreams’ to be reminded that the world is a better place when the bridges outnumber the walls.”
“Mango Dreams” won the Humanity Award at the Cebu International Film Festival for its coverage of many diverse topics, including family, religion, politics, aging, geographical boundaries and history.
The audience learns that as a child, Amit, portrayed by Ram Gopal Bajaj survived the British partition of India. Since then, he has been running from the nightmare of his childhood. Muslims murdered his family, and he feels responsible for the death of his younger brother. Realizing that dementia is slowly eroding his mind, Amit must return to his childhood home and resolve his past with the present before he forgets it all.
Chance leads Amit to Salim, a Muslim portrayed by Pankaj Tripathi, who has himself been tormented by the memory of the brutal death of his wife at the hands of Hindu rioters. Salim offers to take Amit “home” without knowing exactly where the journey will lead. Tensions soon surface, but along the thousand-mile journey, Amit and Salim forge an unforgettable friendship.
“I wanted to bring two people together, two opposites, and have them bridge their differences,” Upchurch says. “Doctor (Singh) and Salim are ‘separated’ by age, class, education and religion. I thought it would be interesting to force these two characters together on a journey that both figuratively and literally transports them across borders.
“Underneath all the story lines is a common theme – the dissolving of arbitrary borders built upon the foundation of fear. Borders attempt to divide us and subjugate us based on class, race, religion and nationality. The line that sums up the film and my feelings is, ‘We are all just people.’”
Upchurch is a filmmaker based in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina with bachelor’s degrees in computer and electrical engineering. He also attended City Oaks School of the Arts for Cinema and Video Studies. “Mango Dreams” is his first feature film.
“There is no denying the power of the parable,” he says. “Today, I still look up to the storytellers of my childhood. I love how they sparked my imagination, opened my mind to new ideas, and encouraged me to care and to feel more deeply. I learned early that a good story does more than entertain. A good story provokes thought between laughter, promotes healing between tears, transmits a message of hope. In short, a good story should enlighten as it entertains.
“The greatest thing I can ever hope to do in this life is tell a good story.”
For more information on “Mango Dreams”, http://mangoworldmagazine.blogspot.com/2013/06/mango-dreams-feature-film-set-in-india.html.
The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. South Arts, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit regional arts organization building on the South’s unique heritage and enhancing the public value of the arts. Their work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective, through an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and linking the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information on South Arts, visit www.southarts.org.
For information about the film, film series or the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, call 423-439-TKTS (8587) or visit www.etsu.edu/martin.