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Hank & Asha - Film Review
by Karen Pecota

A little romance via video letters is the premise for award-winning filmmaker James E. Duff in Hank and Asha, his latest feature narrative. Duff and his co-writer/producer Julia Morrison tell a sweet and tender love story between two young filmmakers, Asha (Mahira Kakkar), and Hank (Andrew Pastides) living worlds apart. Asha lives in Prague. Hank lives in New York. Their relationship develops primarily from countless hours of video letters.

Asha is from India studying film in Prague. She sees Hank's film about ballroom dancing at a film festival held in Prague. She likes the film and hopes to talk with the director at the typical question and answer session following film festival screenings. Hank did not attend the festival. Asha is disappointed but finds a way to contact him. She is curious as to how he chooses the topic for his film.

Asha makes connection via a video message. She introduces herself as a film student in Prague and was impressed with his film. She had several questions, the first one being, "What inspired you to make your film about ballroom dancing? Then secondly she asked, “Are you a dancer?" She inquires if he could respond to "talk- shop". Curiously, Hank responds in kind.

The visual conversation continues not just for hours that particular day but over several weeks. Hank and Asha video just about everything in their daily life--mundane routines, school, work, activities, eating, ideas, feelings, questions, thoughts, family, friends. Whatever one does on a daily basis is a subject to video and later discuss. Hardships and mishaps play a part in this story making the development of their relationship so sweet. Hank is a romantic and Asha is smitten with his kindness. Hanks' video letters to Asha are so creative that he often dresses for the occasion as if she were actually present. Their child-like curiosity about one another is shared in their dialogue but viewed with amazing cinematography.

The two have a dream to meet in Paris. Planning their roundez-vous is exhilarating. Hank asks her to dinner via video in lue of one of their planning sessions. He feels it important that they first experience the joy of French cuisine before they venture to a land they knowo not of. A charmingly fun-filled video dinner ends in heartache.

Asha comments that her parents must not find out about meeting Hank in Paris. Surprised by her seriousness Hank digs for the reasons. Asha confesses a secret. A few years earlier, Asha negotiated with her father that if he paid for her to go to film school in exchange she would agree to an arranged marriage. Hank shares that to him it is a scary thought that his mother would be choosing a wife for him. Surprised that arranged marriages still exist Hank begins to explore with Asha heartwarming video letters about finding love. Oh! The pains of growing up when involved in a little romance of different worlds.