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Foreigners' perilous quest for the brass ring

'Green Card Fever' sheds light on the shady characters aiding illegal immigrants and on the cultural identity crises of immigrants' children.

August 22, 2003|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

Bala Rajasekharuni's "Green Card Fever" is a clumsy yet impassioned first film that casts a provocative light on the baffling maze facing illegal immigrants in the U.S. The timeliness of this subject, a lively cast and an unfamiliar setting -- Columbus, Ohio -- help offset heavy-handed melodramatics and plotting.

Vikram Dasu stars as Murali, a likable but naive member of an Indian dance troupe on a cultural exchange mission who drops out of the company with the belief that he will be able to find work, even though his visa has run out. He pays an immigration attorney to obtain a green card for him within six months but instead falls prey to Parvesh (Kaaizad Kotwal), who runs an immigrant aid service but in reality exploits his clients and puts them in the hands of a greedy immigration attorney (Robert Lin).

Trying to help him is a legitimate immigration attorney, Om (Deep Katdare), urged by his grandfather (Subash Kundanmal) to do more pro bono work for illegal immigrants trapped in a harsh, complex and often corrupt system. In the meantime, Murali is drawn to the headstrong Bharathi (Purva Bedi), whose parents want to force her into an arranged marriage. Both Om and Bharathi are Americans of Indian descent but find themselves coping with clashing cultural identities. While clunky in pacing -- and in periodic attempts at humor -- "Green Card Fever" has been well-photographed by Scott Spears and makes some provocative points.

*

'Green Card Fever'

MPAA rating: Unrated

Times guidelines: Complex adult themes

Vikram Dasu...Murali

Purva Bedi...Bharathi

Deep Katdare...Om

Kaaizad Kotwal...Parvesh

Subash Kundanmal...Dada

A Net Effect Media release of a One Hoarse Town Production. Writer-director Bala Rajasekharuni. Producer Vijay Vaidyanathan. Cinematographer Scott Spears. Editors Robert Komatsu, Robin Lee. Music Pete Sears. Art director Michael Tipka. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Exclusively at the Naz 8 Cinemas, Naz Plaza, 6440 E. South St, Lakewood, (562) 866-2444.

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