Synopsis by Mark Deming
A twenty-something student finds himself caught between contemporary American culture and the long-standing traditions of his family in this independent drama. Sureel (Aalok Mehta) is a college student in his last year of studies, and things seem to be going well for him -- he's nearly completed his degree in music, his grades are good, he has a cute girlfriend, and he sings with a local rock band whose career is on the upswing. However, Sureel's father (Paresh Rawal) doesn't know about most of this; Sureel is a first generation Indian-American, and his immigrant father wants his son to become a doctor -- and would not be happy to learn his son's girlfriend is Caucasian. Sureel's dad eventually learns the truth about his son's college career, and is quite furious over the news, but his anger is eased when he discovers Sureel has broken up with his girlfriend and has started dating a fellow Indian-American, Maya (Sheetal Sheth). But Sureel and Maya's parents quickly begin arranging a marriage that the students aren't the least bit prepared for, and Sureel's tensions with his father begin to reach the breaking point. Just as Sureel has enough problems to deal with, he finds himself on the outs with his band, and soon takes a gig with another group; as luck would have it, Sureel finds himself facing his old bandmates head to head in a campus Battle of the Bands. American Chai was shown in competition at the 2001 Slamdance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Feature.
band [music group], college-student, marriage-arranged, tradition