Opinion: Everywhere and Nowhere (2011)

Menhaj Huda’s latest offering, which releases today, has been branded as a “coming-of-age” drama which encompasses the cultural divide faced by many British Asians today. Born and bred in the Western world but also in keeping with the traditions and roots from their respective native countries, it is safe to say that life as a British Asian can be a clash of two very different ways of life.  Everywhere and Nowhere can be seen as an attempt to portray this obvious conflict between societies, ideologies and generations. However, it’s important – as a British Asian myself – to question whether the movie does what it says on the package.

Everywhere and Nowhere’s plot follows a would-be DJ, Ash, who resides in London and dreams of making it big. A college drop-out in constant arguments with his family, Ash is largely influenced by the company he keeps. His elder brother, a traditionalist somewhat, feels Ash should join the family business if he doesn’t wish to pursue further education. Torn between his dreams and what he feels is expected of him, the story goes on to see Ash and his friends in various sub-plots depicting typical dilemmas and arguably necessary decisions that need to be made that change the courses of their respective lives.

Let me start by clarifying that I haven’t seen Huda’s previous Urban Asian dramas Adulthood and Kidulthood. However, whether this fact limits my outlook of Everywhere and Nowhere or whether it gives me a rather open mind upon seeing it is debatable. The movie, to put it bluntly, lacks in various areas. The most noticeable deficiency comes in the form of simple incoherence. As highlighted above, my own experiences and thoughts as a second generation British Asian are what I expected to see in some form in the movie. Instead, what I found was that the logic of the characters and the surrounding circumstances were a little too casual. What would have made up for this drawback would have been concise justification of actions and decisions, and neither of these were present.

Another area in which I feel the movie may be subject to criticism is the want for emotional connection with the main characters. The character of Ash, played by James Floyd, appears to have a continuous quandary in his mind between what he feels is right, the hypocrisy he encounters in those close to him and his own ultimate goals. Whilst all of these factors are made readily available to the viewer as the movie progresses, none are explored enough to obtain natural closure when the movie ends and neither do they get challenged in an acceptable social form during the end scenes. What would have brought a unique freshness to the plot is to see the issues that were raised being tackled and overcome in some respect at least.

The performances of the movie can be seen as one of the movie’s only saviours but even they aren’t enough to hold the film on their shoulders. James Floyd who plays the protagonist is great in the role. Shivani Ghai who plays his sister is also good in performance as are the rest of the cast. It would however be unfair not to mention that a lot of the characters in the film limit the actors a little, in my opinion. I would have loved to see a more significant “explosion” in the climax of the movie of these characters and their sub-plots. Adam Deacon, recently seen in Anuvahood, is a great actor who seems to be wasted in the movie too. There are also other well-known names such as Art Malik and Saeed Jafferi (to name a few) who add to the overall impact of the movie but it seems these names and talents aren’t given justice in a movie in which they aren’t able to showcase their expertise in the correct fashion.

In conclusion, all that is left to be said is that although the intentions and foundations of a good British Asian movie are very much present in Everywhere and Nowhere, it failed to create any sort of significant impact on me. It has been suggested to me that I should maybe go away and look to watch Huda’s previous movies in order to see the difference between this most recent venture and those. I might just do that… anything to justify how a film which looked so promising and which clearly had such great talent/ideas behind it can end up falling short in so many places. Huda, in an interview after the screening, was heard to say that he had the idea for the movie for about a decade ago and following the huge success of Slumdog Millionaire, it wasn’t difficult to sell a movie which was so obviously using the British Asian culture to it’s advantage. On one side, Slumdog Millionaire has indeed opened many doors and it may now be that much more easier to get a project from a different culture going, howvere it is also imperative that the essence of such a film isn’t lost in the process. Sadly, it seems this is what has happened with Everywhere and Nowhere. I don’t doubt any of the talents or the vision of those involved and I look forward to similar forthcoming ventures but I put my hand on my heart and say that Everywhere and Nowhere was capable of having many more layers and textures to it’s narrative which are disappointingly missing.

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