NEW DELHI: Shahbaz Ali Sayyed is pursuing a career in chartered accountancy from Ahemdabad, Gujarat. Three years back, he went to the US for a year on a cultural exchange scholarship where he was hosted by an American couple. For the son of a roadside cycle repair man, it was a life-changing experience. A 24 minute documentary, A dream called America, shows how those 12 months influenced his life as well as that of his family.
Produced and directed by Anoop Sathyan, the documentary is about a family and its aspirations. “I wanted this film to be personal. I shot without any crew in order to capture the candid moments at home,” says Sathyan, who did not choose to analyse or offer solutions to the family’s dream.
“The subject is very personal to them. I didn’t take sides or make a statement because I understand the pain of Shahbaz’s parents who know that their son wants to settle in the US now. I also understand the emotions of the hard-working Shahbaz who wants to fulfil his dream,” says Sathyan.
A Dream called America has been submitted to the annual Jeevika: Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival, an initiative of Centre for Civil Society, a public policy think-tank based in Delhi. This year’s festival will be held from 31 August to 2nd September 2012 at India Habitat Centre, Delhi,” says Manoj Mathew, festival director.
Third among five siblings, Shahbaz’s mother is a housewife. The one year that Shahbaz spent in the US changed his attitude to life as he experienced the comforts of a US home. In Ahemdabad, he lives in a one-room home with seven family members.
“Life out there is fantastic. Everything is taken care of. I learnt to speak English, scored well in my school, played soccer matches and practically did anything that I wanted to. My hosts were very nice and took very good care of me. Initially I would only have bread and tea as I found it difficult to eat American food. But soon my host mom got me Indian stuff to cook and I learnt to make my own meals. She even offered to take me to a mosque on weekends to pray,” says Shahbaz who returned with an American accent and a penchant for pizzas.
Shahbaz aims to go abroad again. “I have great career options in the US but I want to think hard before I go. I understand that I have my family to tend to in India. I might go to Europe. Right now I haven’t decided anything,” he says.