Our hero Ilyas is a thirteen-year-old Pakistani-American boy living in the U.S. who attends a private Islamic school where he stands out, much to his embarrassment. He is growing a very visible mustache that his parents won’t let him shave, and he is the brunt of many jokes and teasing at school. The boys and girls at school treat each other with quiet disdain; it would be terrible if someone knew you had a crush on someone else. While finally standing up to the teasing, he slightly shoves his tormentor, who falls on a young visitor and injures him.
Ilyas gets temporarily expelled. He had been able to attend the school with a scholarship, but his funding got canceled. His dad is not in a position to afford the tuition, so Ilyas must transfer to a public school. Not surprisingly, he stands out even more, he hatches a plan to make his folks believe the new school is corrupting him, but his efforts mostly misfire. A teacher at the school gets him interested in drama, and he gains some self-confidence. Everything soon comes to a head, with comic results.
This film is delightful in every way. Our hero, played by Athava Verma, has the right balance of comic and dramatic chops, and you’d have to be a Scrooge to fail to root for him. His family is portrayed lovingly and realistically, but Rizwan Manji (who you might recognize from Schitt’s Creek) really stands out as the dad. As things never get too heavy, we remember it’s a comedy, but the movie has its touching moments. The director, Imran J Khan, has a few films under his belt; he’s one to watch in the future.
Director: Imran J Khan
Writer: Imran J Khan
Starring: Atharv Verma as Ilyas
Rizwan Manji as dad
Ayana Manji as Yasmeen
Alicia Silverstone as Miss Martin
Krishna Manivannan as Arun