An Indian student in Prague and a lonely New Yorker correspond online through video letters. A voyeuristic love story about aching for human connection in a hyper-connected world.
“Hank and Asha” is a love story but it’s not only a love story, it’s a wonderful, happy, heartbreaking, unconventional kind of love story. The two people involved are Hank (Andrew Pastides), a 27 year-old production assistant who works on a reality TV show in New York City and Asha (Mahira Kakkar), a 25 year-old Indian woman who is attending film school in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic. What’s so different about this love story? Well, the two leads never actually get to meet each other. Their correspondence is accomplished via video and since each are involved in the art of filmmaking, they both have access to good quality cameras and they relay their thoughts and feelings and, at times, frustrations to each other.
While attending a film festival in Prague, Asha sees an independent movie that was made by Hank and it has such a profound effect on her, that she manages to obtain his information from the festival office. Initially, she contacts him to tell him how much she loved his movie and how powerful she thought it was and asks him why he wasn’t able to attend the screening. He responds in kind, informing her that work got in the way and after a while, they continue corresponding with each other. They are able to show each other their apartments, their workplace, where they like to go and hang out for some peace and quiet and gradually, they each open up about themselves. After Asha informs Hank that she’s always wanted to go to Paris, she receives a ticket from him in the mail.
He says he would love to go to Paris and spend a weekend with her. She is originally caught off guard but she then returns the sentiment to him and they both start planning what they will do, where they will go, sights they will see and they are both excited for the trip but in every love story, there has to be some unavoidable drama. Very reluctantly, Asha informs Hank that she is engaged. Because her family is from India and are very traditional, her parents have organized an arranged marriage an although she has met her fiancé a few times, she is not overly enthused at the prospect but at the same time, she doesn’t want to let her family down. She tells Hank that she would still like to meet him as friends but the thrill and excitement of wanting to meet each other, slowly gives way to guilt and heartbreak.
Husband and wife team James E. Duff (director, co-writer, producer) and Julia Morrison (producer, co-writer, editor) have produced that rare audience pleaser, a tapestry of sincere emotions and while Hank and Asha never actually meet each other, you can’t help but share in their temperaments, happy and sad. At the very heart of the story, is the feeling that love is all about timing and that an overlooked moment can never be reclaimed. Andrew Pastides and Mahira Kakkar never feel like they are acting for the camera, they are both genuinely natural and after a while, you feel like they are both addressing you. By the end of the movie, when they have both, very hesitantly, accepted their inevitable fate, to never be with or even meet each other, you find yourself sitting there, heartbroken, at the thought of two people who are absolutely perfect for each other, moving further and further away. Highly recommended.
Available to buy on DVD at Amazon and streaming on HuLu Plus