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HomeMoviesIndian-Mexican restaurants inspired 'Land of Gold,' an intersecting immigrant story : NPR

Indian-Mexican restaurants inspired ‘Land of Gold,’ an intersecting immigrant story : NPR


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NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with director and actor Nardeep Khurmi about his new film Land of Gold about intersecting immigrant experiences.


The filmmaker Nardeep Khurmi was driving by means of Los Angeles when one thing caught his eye.

NARDEEP KHURMI: I like making an attempt new meals, and I began seeing these Indian Mexican hybrid eating places in Los Angeles. And I instantly was like, I’ve to attempt them. Additionally, how does this exist? Why does this exist? It makes full sense that you’d combine Indian and Mexican meals collectively.

SHAPIRO: That juxtaposition of cultures began him excited about totally different immigrant experiences.

KHURMI: It was, like, this, like, actually excellent distillation of the American dream – these two type of disenfranchised communities coming collectively to, you recognize, kind their piece of the pie.

SHAPIRO: He explores these two immigrant experiences in a brand new film known as “Land Of Gold.” Khurmi wrote, directed and stars in it. He performs a trucker named Kiran with a pregnant spouse at house. And on a cross-country haul, he finds a Mexican American lady named Elena hiding behind his rig.


KHURMI: (As Kiran) Clear up after your self. You do what you are advised. That is my truck, my enterprise. Understood? Understood?

CAROLINE VALENCIA: (As Elena) Understood.

SHAPIRO: This story has a generational factor, too.

KHURMI: There’s so many issues that we have now to fret about with youngsters basically. Like, simply even going to highschool, it’s a must to fear about, is your child going to come back house as we speak? Now you throw on the BIPOC expertise onto that or the undocumented expertise onto that, and immediately, it turns into a lot extra fraught. And I actually needed to discover these themes of, what’s it to be brown in America? And what’s it to type of heal from generational trauma and type of depart one thing for the following technology that is extra hopeful?

SHAPIRO: If the genesis of the thought got here from seeing Punjabi Mexican eating places, you actually wove that into the plot.


VALENCIA: (As Elena) What’s it?

KHURMI: (As Kiran) Meals.

VALENCIA: (As Elena) What type?

KHURMI: (As Kiran) Indian meals.

VALENCIA: (As Elena) Perhaps there’s one thing…

KHURMI: (As Kiran) Hey. Simply roll it up like a burrito, OK?

VALENCIA: (As Elena) You realize burritos aren’t even Mexican, proper?

KHURMI: (Laughter) Yeah, I like that scene. Nicely, yeah, you recognize, for me, tradition is so wrapped in – up in meals. There’s this type of misnomer that BIPOC communities are monolithic. And even inside our communities, we do not actually know a lot in regards to the different one until we, like, attempt to study them. So I at all times suppose it is humorous that, like, this Indian man and this Mexican lady will be speaking however coming from utterly totally different languages. So him saying roll it up like a burrito is his personal ignorance but in addition type of, like, is sensible on this bizarre approach and…

SHAPIRO: Proper ‘trigger she says burritos aren’t even Mexican.

KHURMI: Proper, precisely, which is its personal difficult factor ‘trigger it is like, effectively, are they or aren’t they? And, you recognize, meals and religion – there’s, like, a giant part within the movie that type of talks about Sikhism and Elena’s Catholicism. I feel that performs such a job in what makes these characters who they’re. So it simply made sense that they might be sharing these features of themselves to one another as they’re attending to know one another.

SHAPIRO: One other element within the movie that I used to be stunned to be taught is actual is that at truck stops alongside interstates in Center America, there are Indian eating places and Sikh temples. And is that as a result of there are such a lot of truck drivers from South Asia?

KHURMI: Yeah, yeah. So, you recognize, in India, in Punjab, the trucking business in India could be very a lot, like, run by Punjabis. And should you go to, like, you recognize, totally different pockets of South Asian type of immigrants, you may see posters of, like, hey; need six-figure wage? You wish to management your future? Get a job as a trucker. So, like, that blue-collar trucking way of life could be very a lot in our blood. You realize, I’ve relations who’re truckers as effectively.


KHURMI: So, yeah, it simply is sensible that, you recognize, should you’ve acquired this group on the street – that there could be individuals to service this group. So these roadside eating places – they’re known as dhabas. They’ve type of popped up all throughout America at these inflection factors, and so they serve actually tasty Indian meals.

SHAPIRO: What does that phrase imply?

KHURMI: Dhaba – it is like a – I’d say it is like canteen. And should you go to those dhabas – and we explored this within the film just a little bit – it is all walks of life which can be there as a result of the truckers know if you’d like a very good, wholesome meal, go to the dhaba. Do not go to the fast-food restaurant throughout the road. It is fairly cool.

SHAPIRO: When the film begins, Kiran’s spouse is about to present beginning to their first baby, and he takes off on a trucking journey throughout the nation and meets this character who turns into nearly like a surrogate daughter to him. What do you suppose the intergenerational type of parent-child dynamic provides to the story?

KHURMI: You realize, while you’re speaking about generational trauma, I feel there is a couple methods to discover it. And a approach that I do not suppose I’ve ever seen it being explored is, how does somebody transfer on from their traumas to then cross on higher stuff to their child, proper? And I feel for me, the movie – Kiran type of leaving his spouse within the lurch to start with – you recognize, like, that is not a very good factor to go away your spouse when she’s about to present beginning.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Proper.

KHURMI: Yeah. Do not advise anybody doing that. However, yeah, you recognize, he is clearly grappling with one thing. And that is this whole historical past that he is come from – what his father and his mom suffered from and that he is burdening. There’s that scene the place, you recognize, Elena asks about God, and Kiran responds particularly with a line about, you might have a selection of learn how to reply.


VALENCIA: (As Elena) Why does God let dangerous issues occur?

KHURMI: (As Kiran) Perhaps there is not a cause. The universe is consistently increasing. Stars kind. Galaxies die. None of it’s good or dangerous. It simply is. Issues simply occur. The one selection you might have is learn how to reply.

And I feel Kiran being offered Elena within the movie – it is his alternative to decide on learn how to reply, lastly, ‘trigger he’ll have to reply together with his personal child. However now he is been type of brushing that apart. And it forces him to type of confront a number of these generational traumas and the issues that he is been shouldering and burdening and looking for a approach by means of that to appreciate that he will be the daddy he desires to be. And people issues that occurred to him, occurred to his household, the issues he witnessed do not must outline how he raises his baby in the identical approach that Elena, who’s coping with this, you recognize, irreparable trauma and – you recognize, she’s been separated from her household. That does not must outline her. And Kiran type of going by means of this as a type of older man is looking for a method to present that to Elena – that she will be greater than her trauma and may transfer by means of that and nonetheless be a vibrant, hopeful, joyful human whatever the issues that we undergo.

SHAPIRO: After you pitched this story on the Tribeca Movie Pageant in 2021, you received the Untold Tales prize, which got here with 1,000,000 {dollars}, mentorship, a distribution deal. And I’m wondering if the joys of profitable that prize is in any approach tempered by frustration at the truth that these sorts of tales are untold, that we do not see them on film screens extra usually.

KHURMI: Yeah. Wow. I’ve by no means heard that query posed that approach earlier than. I’ll say sure. After we had been pitching, there have been 5 finalists, 5 stunning movies to be made. And it’s disheartening that, as a filmmaker, I’ve to win a million-dollar prize with the intention to inform my story. However the upside of it, I feel, is that executives and producers and studios and financiers are beginning to understand the benefit of those tales. It is type of, like, a messed-up method to must say it. Like, oh, we have now benefit, proper? However I feel persons are beginning to change within the sense that they see that audiences worth them. And it is only a matter of individuals lastly with the ability to give these filmmakers and these storytellers the inexperienced mild to inform these stunning tales.

SHAPIRO: Nardeep Khurmi wrote, directed and starred within the film “Land Of Gold,” now streaming on Max. Thanks a lot.

KHURMI: Thanks.


GABI FASTMAN: (Singing in Spanish). (Singing) Love might come. You simply will not know from the place. Las madres will know what to do.

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NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content is probably not in its closing kind and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might differ. The authoritative report of NPR’s programming is the audio report.


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