Updated: Nov 16, 2021
Texas based filmmaker Nirav Bhakta will be premiering the award winning short film ‘Thank You, Come Again’ at the 28th Austin Film Festival.
‘Thank You, Come Again’ is about an undocumented Indian American convenience store clerk who comes crashing into his subconscious as he grieves the death of his father from an attempted border crossing.
Bhakta having grown up as an undocumented immigrant himself was compelled to explore a migrant narrative focused in a post 9/11 world where “South Asian Americans were either seen as hyper comedic caricatures or as terrorist threats.
For a very long time the term ‘thank you, come again’ was used as mockery for someone who looked like me.
This film is my way of reclaiming those words and humanizing the faces we see behind convenience store counters and the weight of their American dream”
The experimental psychological drama, shot by ace cinematographer Samudranil Chatterjee, utilizes one location, structured between convenience store aisles, as the character unravels through the five stages of grief.
Composer Dhruv Goel created an original score through atmospheric sounds existing in the store, creating a visceral experience in addition to the visuals. Nirav Bhakta also stars as the lead along with Asit Vyas and Rohan Singh.
Nirav’s previous films have screened at over 100 film festivals around the world and have streamed and broadcast on HBO, CBS and Disney+.
Thank You, Come Again was supported by the Armed With A Camera fellowship and is executive produced by Shivaani Sharma of Vinita Pictures and Visual Communications.
The film was produced by Kelsey Fordham, Keertana Sastry and Alexcina Figueroa.
Thank You, Come Again will screen at St David’s on October 23rd at 4pm and at the Rollins Theater on October 25th at 11pm during the ‘Against The Tide’ short film program.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Thank You, Come Again about
Thank You, Come Again is an experimental psychological drama about an undocumented Indian American convenience store clerk who comes crashing into his subconscious as he grieves the death of his father from an attempted border crossing.
What inspired you to tell this story?
Thank You, Come Again was inspired by the moment when my brown skin and my immigration status came to an intersection post 9/11. All of a sudden I was hyper aware of how society viewed me. I was either a heightened comedic caricature or a dangerous threat.
This oscillation of an identity that was projected on me and many other South Asian Americans is what has led popular culture to make South Asian people as 2-dimensional characters. With this story I hope to humanize the immigrants who work behind these store counters and the weight of their American dream.
Why is this story important?
A story like Thank You, Come Again is important through the perspective it is told. There are very few instances on television or cinema, if any, where someone from a lived undocumented experience gets to tell a story from their lens.
Often in the media immigration is only related to Central American, or Mexican immigrants, however the undocummented experience from a South Asian perspective is fairly uncharted territory.
This story is important, because it impacts families like mine who have struggled with their sacrifices in search of a better future.
Many of these sacrifices are made for the next generation, with a price for freedom to break through the socio-economic cycle, ironically leaving much of the weight and burden of the American dream on the next generation.
What was the experience like from being behind and infront of the camera?
I felt creatively at peace and simultaneously invigorated by the juggling of chaos. I’m truly grateful for having an Incredible team who took on so much weight on their shoulders in order for me to focus and do my job effectively. I started my journey in film as an actor and have trained for years. In order to be the best actor I could, I needed to do more than just train, but also have knowledge of how a set worked.
When I was in my late teens, I would either observe every person’s job on set or many times volunteer on sets.
I’ ve done every role on a film set from the bottom to the top, just to have a better understanding at what goes into the synergy that is called cinema.
When moved from Texas to Los Angeles in hopes of coming to the dreamland where roles for people like me would be plenty and innovative, I quickly came to a rude awakening.
This is where becoming the creator became a crucial part not only for myself, but many of my BIPOC brothers and sisters.
We had to create our own complex, compelling narratives and characters if we wanted to expand the landscape of representation.
I can’t necessarily point a finger at Hollywood, as most people only create what they know.
With that being said there are plenty of issues that are systematic in Hollywood, but I knew that if I wanted to tell such specific narratives from the Indian American experience, I had to expand people’s taste palette by presenting these stories that included brown people as 3-dimensional people.
What is the Armed With A Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artist?
Visual Communications founded the Armed With A Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists to develop the next generation of Asian American and Pacific Islander artists and connect communities through the power of storytelling.
Sponsored by The Academy, The fellowship is currently In its 20th season with a cohort of ten visionary filmmakers who have gained industry mentorship over a 6 month period.
Where can one watch the film?
The film will have its Texas premiere at the 28th Austin Film Festival with two live screenings in the ‘Against The Tide’ short film program.
October 23rd 4pm St David’s
October 25th 11pm Rollins Theater
Filmmakers will be in attendance for both screenings.