One of two big surprises is that this gentle, humanistic tale of an illiterate young man making his own way in southern India isn't the work of a native South Asian filmmaker, but an American. The second surprise is that director is Chris Smith, who is best-known for such uniquely American documentaries as AMERICAN MOVIE, HOME MOVIE and the mordantly funny THE YES MEN. Need a third surprise? Smith's unlikely foray into fiction filmmaking (his second, counting his feature debut, AMERICAN JOB) is wonderfully realized and remarkably assured.
Originally from a small rural village in the state Karnathaka, 18-year-old Venkatesh (Venkatesh Chavan) now lives in the...