Any Day Now
Director: Hamy Ramezan
Cast: Aran-Sinh Keshvari, Shahab Hosseini, Shabnam Ghorbani, Kimiya Eskandari
One has seen movies about asylum seekers and the extent they go to get what they want. We have also seen stories of men and women being smuggled across borders in excruciatingly painful ways. But Iranian director Hamy Ramezan’s Berlin Film Festival title, Any Day Now, skips all these to talk about how a small family of man, woman and their two children arrive in Finland seeking asylum.
The movie is partly autobiographical, and in an interview the director – who co-wrote the screenplay with Antti Rautava — says that he wanted to show the simple pleasures of living in an uncertain world. “The family, waiting in Finland for asylum, is trapped in this kind of will it happen, will it not happen predicament. But it learns to extract small joys from this huge question mark. It goes to parties — dancing (even quite splendidly at one point, silent dancing!), plays games and cultivates friendships. In the daytime, they visit friends, Helena and Onni, an elderly and affectionate couple immersed in Nature.
The family’s everyday life may lack dramatic curves, but I do not remember a film in which we see the mother gently waking up her kids and husband, and how the man and Onni in their drunken stupor find ways to cheer themselves.
The family waits with bated breath every day for that letter from the Finnish Government granting the right to live and work in the country. The son, Ramin (Aran-Sinh Keshvari), and his little sister, Donya (Kimiya Eskandari), attend school, and make friends. He even gets attracted to a girl. And when he gets a chance to dance with her at a school event, he is shy but deliriously happy. Then the axe falls, but I found it remarkable at the very civilised way the family is treated by immigration.
The father, Bahman (Shahab Hosseini, a leading Iranian actor), is roguishly funny, and loves his family to bits. His wife, Mahtab (Shabnam Ghorbani), is patient and caring, completing the circle. There are little interludes; Ramin gets naughty and along with his school friend plays with street lights, turning them of and on. And when they are offered beer in a party, they sip it and find it so bitter that they have to quickly eat chocolate to get the taste off.
It is not difficult to guess what the climax will be, but we keep hoping that our guess turns out incorrect. Despite the terrible uncertainty the family faces, the film plays out like a love letter to Finland. Any Day Now has an important point to make. In todays times, with the political collapse of countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq, migration has taken a gigantic form. While people are desperate for a better life, they are not always welcome in their host country.
But Any Day Now is not about this; it is as a coming-of-age story of 13-year-old Ramin, whose wide-eyed curiosity of all things different is as charming as his performance.
The movie is a little uneven though. For, in the beginning we feel that it is about Ramin’s parents. But it is not.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is a movie critic and author of a biography of Adoor Gopalakrishnan)