The Tiger Hunter is the fictional story of an Indian immigrant, Sami, who’s played by Community’s Danny Pudi and who does not, in fact, hunt tigers. But his dad did! We don’t really see any tiger hunting in this movie, which is fine with me. I like tigers, and that probably would have been sad. Anyway, Sami grows up in a small Indian town where his father—the actual tiger hunter—is a hero. Sami wants to be just like him, but somehow gets it into his head that Chicago is the place to make this happen. Oh, and all of this takes place in the 1970s, and Sami is also trying to prove to his childhood sweetheart that he’s a successful microwave engineer. Even excluding tigers, this movie has quite a bit going on.
The Tiger Hunter is like if a Bollywood romance and a Wes Anderson movie had a baby, then that baby grew up and had its own baby with My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s neither totally Indian, nor totally American. OR WAIT—maybe that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be? Like an immigrant, it’s both things, but neither—never wholly Indian nor American. The more I write about this, the more I realize this was pretty effectively done. Good job, movie!
Any film about immigration is timely, obviously, although this one plays a little Yakov Smirnoff-y with a celebration of “American opportunity,” even as its characters are jammed 15-deep into a one-room apartment, and even as, IRL, we’re living in Trump’s America. But movies can be for escaping, and this one’s pleasant enough to watch. And even though there isn’t any actual tiger hunting, Sami does have to demonstrate cunning and bravery in pursuit of the elusive American dream—showing that through patience and hard work, you can capture the thing, and... hang on a second. Is the tiger-hunting a metaphor?! Whoa!