The Tiger Hunter

The Tiger Hunter is the directorial debut of filmmaker Lena Kahn. Its world premiere was at the 2016 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The story follows Sami Malik (Danny Pudi), who moves to the United States to become successful in hopes of winning the heart of his love, Ruby (Karen David).

2016 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Writer: Sameer Gardezi, Lena Khan
Director: Lena Khan
Cast: Danny Pudi, Jon Heder, Karen David

The Tiger Hunter takes place in 1979 in a small village in India. Young Sami Malik is the son of the village’s hero, the legendary Tiger Hunter. But titles don’t make you rich and his childhood sweetheart, Ruby, is going to America with her father, General Iqbal (Iqbal Theba) to find a suitable husband. Seeing this as his only chance to prove he is worthy to be husband to his love, the village pulls its resources together to send Sami to America, where he has an engineering job waiting for him.

Unfortunately, Sami’s arrival to the United States is fraught with problems. Sami is mugged the moment he leaves the airport. The job he was promised is no longer available, so Sami takes a temporary job in the mail room. With no place to live, Sami bunks up with a friendly stranger, Babu (Rizwan Manji), who lets him stay at his apartment where he literally shares a bed with 8 other roommates.

Sami now has only a few weeks to become a successful engineer, live in a mansion and earn a salary worthy of the respect of his love’s father. On his way, Sami befriends his co-worker Alex (Jon Heder) who helps him navigate New York.

The Tiger Hunter is a visually stunning tale of romance. Although the Aladdin-like story for Sami and Ruby is familiar, writer/director Lena Khan tells the tale through the eyes of the Indian culture. The backdrop of the 70’s paints a tale of foreign immigrants, who were doctors, engineers and upper-middle class in their homeland, who are now busboys and mailroom clerks in the new America.

Dani Pudi is sweet and funny as Sami. Sami is hard-working and determined to succeed with the odds against him. The cast of the Tiger Hunter is filled with many South Asian actors who have made a name for themselves in film and television including Rizwan Manji, Iqbal Theba and Parvesh Cheena. They bring their comedic sensibilities to the film making The Tiger Hunter a well-packaged love story.

The Tiger Hunter is definitely one of the highlights of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, garnering the coveted Opening Night feature. The mainstream comedy of love will appeal to broad audiences and will stand as a proud representation of the Indian culture in America.

7 out of 10 stars

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