You're not sure exactly what you'll find in a movie with a title like this one's, but you know it can't be good. Your first surprise will be at how many people have actually turned up in the theater, compared to your estimate (three). Your next one will be most of them cheering and howling in glee for about half the movie. What gives?
One of the few films on racial discrimination against Asians in Britain, I - Proud To Be An Indian is generously scattered with dialogues and scenes designed to get the blood rushing in the veins of any righteous patriot. Subtlety is not on anyone's agenda, and the people in the theater screaming for gora blood showed just as much enthusiasm when Priyanka Chopra shook her thing during the interval.
Narrated in third person, the film is about an Indian, referred to only as I (and played by Sohail-Khan-of-one-expression), who migrates to the UK with his father (Khulbhushan Kharbhanda). At his brother's home in London's Eat End, I finds that all is not well.
A gang of skinhead Neo-Nazis, who've declared themselves defenders of the white race, is out to purge their neighbourhood of all Asians. When they're not killing pregnant women or peeing on an Indian housewife's shopping bag, these lovely young lads are pitching Pakistanis against Indians to score personal victories.
One such Pakistani drug-dealer who's pressed into service is Aslam Sheikh, played by Imran Ali Khan, whose dopey eyes somewhat redeem his abysmal acting skills. The skinheads' plan backfires when I makes friends with Aslam and falls in love with his sister.
All-out war is declared, and predictably, I's family bears the brunt. But just as he decides to walk away to spare them, he's pulled right back in when Aslam is murdered. The film ends with a long fistfight between the leader of the skinheads, Cane (Tim Lawrence), and I, who's egged on by his family and the entire Asian segment of the neighbourhood, not to mention the police.
Overall low expectations and a horrible title work in favor of this film. You're all the more grateful when the director avoids a small cliché or refrains from subjecting you to too much maudlin drama.
The movie even has its moments, like when Khulbhushan Kharbhanda returns home after being roughed up by the goons. Handled very well, the scene disturbs and gives you your first real glimpse of what it's like to be harassed in a strange land simply for being the wrong color. The director obviously knows what he's talking about. If only he'd aimed higher than the lowest common denominator.