In this exploration of South Asian-American identity, an Indian Lyft driver becomes a different person for each of his passengers.
Sachin DharwadkerWriterThe Prince of Hyde Park
Project Type:Short Script
Number of Pages:9
Country of Origin:United States
Sachin DharwadkerSherman Oaks
Sachin Dharwadker is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2016 as a Martin Scorsese Young Filmmakers Scholar, he worked in the video department at Broadway.com while writing scripts and doing fellowships in his spare time. During this period, he was a 2017 Sundance Ignite fellow (for his short film BREATHE IN BREATHE OUT), a participant of the 2017 Sundance Episodic Lab and the 2018 New York Stage & Film Filmmakers’ Workshop (both for his drama pilot THE PRINCE OF HYDE PARK), a grand prize winner of the Celebrate Equality NY Film Challenge, and a 2018 Richie Jackson Artist Fellow. In fall 2018 Sachin moved from New York to Los Angeles, where he currently works as a TV writer. He is represented in film and TV by APA and Literate.
As a filmmaker, Sachin focuses on humanistic stories that explore the moral questions of the modern world, and in particular how these questions apply to marginalized communities. With stories like these, Sachin hopes to fashion a bold and diverse body of work that provokes thought and elicits deep emotional response.
Growing up, one of the racialized images that fascinated and frustrated me most was that of the South Asian male taxi driver. Whether I saw him in real life or on Western screens, I wondered what it was about driving people around that so catered to South Asian men, and how this image became one of Western culture’s most recognizable stereotypes. Do South Asian guys just love driving? Do they enjoy interacting with vast numbers of people every day? Or is it simply that driving gained a reputation as a reliable entry point for these immigrants into Western society? And even still, does it go deeper than that?
I suspect that in real life, the answer — if there is one — is probably various combinations of the above. But what I’ve increasingly noticed in screen depictions of these men is that we as viewers are never asked to care about who they are or what really drives them — they’re usually reduced to a minstrel with a funny accent. So my goal in BHUMIKA is to take apart this deeply engrained image and re-construct it into something more complex and mysterious. BHUMIKA doesn’t seek to “answer” the nature of the South Asian driver; rather, it seeks to make us interested enough to ask questions in the first place.
Karan is a man whom his passengers think they know — whether it’s because they’ve seen men like him before or because their interaction with him resonated. But I’d like to argue in BHUMIKA that you can never really know a person through such fleeting interactions. Karan is more than he looks, and he uses that knowledge to take advantage of unsuspecting people for reasons both noble and perverse. Whether he takes on his various personas for fun or for more “serious” reasons is something I don’t necessarily want to reveal; for me, the point is that a person whose identity many of us take for granted could indeed have a more dynamic and slippery identity than we ever cared to realize.
This is the story of a man we thought we knew who turns out, at least initially, to be unknowable. Western stories have known many mysterious, unknowable men, but most them look like each other. In BHUMIKA, we’ll have the opportunity to see a new kind of unknowable man.