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Sometimes the poorest of men are the richest...

In chaotic New Delhi, an aged and irascible man, seemingly homeless, cheats everyone he meets. When Amal, an auto-rickshaw wallah, generously allows him to dodge his fare, both are affected in a way that has far-reaching consequences. This vividly textured portrait of contemporary India is an extraordinarily ambitious and heartfelt debut from first-time director Richie Mehta. Showing us an unvarnished India rich in flavour, Amal is a powerful and touching story of one man’s decency. When a beautiful client has her bag stolen from Amal’s auto-rickshaw, Amal (Rupinder Nagra) chases after the young cutpurse, but the little girl runs into traffic and is struck by a car. Amal takes her to the hospital and assumes responsibility for her care – an expense he cannot afford. Meanwhile, the irritable old cheat has died, and his funeral reveals he was in fact G.K. Jayaram (Naseeruddin Shah), the patriarch of a wealthy family. Disillusioned with his grasping children, he has willed his fortune to Amal. Now, within thirty days, the estate’s executor must find one anonymous man in this city of fourteen million. If he is found, the wastrel heirs will be deprived of their inheritance and the little pickpocket can receive the care she needs. Familial machinations descend to vicious levels as the search for Amal plays out. Mehta – who also co-wrote the film – viscerally conveys the feel of working-class Delhi. Nuanced performances from some of India’s most revered and beloved performers, including Seema Biswas (Water), Shah (Monsoon Wedding), Roshan Seth (Such a Long Journey) and Koel Purie (White Noise) enhance the film’s authenticity and immediacy. Nagra brings a serene wisdom to Amal that captivates and transports us. The life-affirming story evokes lingering vestiges of the caste system and examines a family in which wealth creates nothing but the hunger for more. At the end of his life, the patriarch holds up a mirror to the world he inhabited as a tycoon but departed as an ascetic. Amal is an inadvertent inspiration to Jayaram, for Amal has always known something that the rich man only just learned; we are defined as much by what we sacrifice as we are by what we possess. – Marguerite Pigott, Toronto International Film Festival
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Directed by: 
Richie Mehta
Running Time: 
English / Hindi, with English subtitles
Rupinder Nagra, Naseeruddin Shah, Seema Biswas, Vik Sahay, Roshan Seth, Koel Purie
Screenplay by: 
Richie Mehta, Shaun Mehta

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