Virender Rana, once a migrant worker from India, chases his dream of becoming a filmmaker while working as a taxi driver in America. Shot over a decade, an intimate portrait of an immigrant following his dreams.
I have a very blurry memory of the afternoon I was at The Philadelphia Parking Authority doing some research work for an upcoming project and heard about Virender Rana. Cab drivers told me my work was incomplete if I did not meet Rana. That, while I was trying to make films, Rana had already completed a Bollywood style feature film. I called Rana and requested to meet him. He was kind and generous with his time and allowed me to film him. We made 12 Days in a Taxi based on observing his life through a camera for 12 days. The film premiered on Indian National Television in 2012 following which it was distributed by The Public Service Broadcasting Trust, India.
But, the making of 12 Days in a Taxi became part of how his personal life changed during the time. Respecting his personal circumstances my producers and I decided not to screen the film any further till Rana felt comfortable. He approached me for more filming which I did for over a decade even though I had to leave the US in 2012 due to visa regulations. Much as documentaries are about what one can film in front of the camera, they are more importantly about the bond one creates with the people whose story we are so privileged to tell. Not screening 12 Days in a Taxi in festivals etc. came at a cost but for me the bond that I created with Rana and his family became more important. As my own life became a series of journeys to and from India and I tried to make sense of what it means to be uprooted, I continued to film with Rana. American Dream is a letter of solidarity to anyone, anywhere who knows what it means to be an immigrant.
Credits: Director, Cinematographer, Editor & Co-Producer
Cinematographer & Executive Producer: Jonathan Olshefski
Editor: Ambarien Alqadar and Nachiket Guttikar
Commissioned by: The Public Service Broadcasting Trust, India
Work in Progress Screenings:
Indo-US Week, The American Center, India 2017
College of Art and Design Faculty Showcase, Rochester Institute of Technology, 2016
The Little Theatre, Rochester, 2016