The Illegal (2019) made me sad and was painful to watch, not in a bad way but in a good sense. The pain and sufferings of a young lad landing in the USA with high hopes for a better life getting stuck in a rut due to his bad luck, and that hits you hard. The film gets a Mangoidiots rating of ‘Ripe’ mainly for brilliant acting by Suraj Sharma, but beware the film can be intense in its portrayal with little respite. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Hassan (Suraj Sharma), an aspiring film-maker, hailing from a middle-class household in Delhi gets admission to a top film school (UCLA?) in Los Angeles . On landing in the USA, his own uncle’s family doesn’t want him staying with them and he is left on the streets to find a roof above him. Hassan starts working illegally (as he is on a student visa) part-time in an Indian Restaurant run by a strict & greedy owner Mr Khan in exchange for housing and a meagre salary. When things appear to be going well, a sudden development derails Hassan’s future plans.

From the word go, Suraj Sharma brings to life the young Hassan with loads of talent and a dream of becoming a big Director. The way he struggles through the thankless job at the restaurant and being lonely in a foreign land was portrayed well, making me shed a few drops of tear. He gets the support of a kind-hearted manager in the restaurant, and a friendly customer turned (girl) friend, but there was a limit to their help.

The film was not all great. For almost several decades now, Indian cinema has made a few films that covered the struggles of immigrants abroad, so the story offered nothing new, it progresses along expected lines – a foreign land, bad relatives, a cruel boss, a demanding education, and helpless parents crushing the dream of a young lad.

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