Adolyn H. Dar and Ali Kazmi in "Desi Standard Time Travel"
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that your parents are more than your parents. That they have their own history, aspirations and dreams in addition to raising children. With time and the passing of it, comes a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices and responsibilities involved within parenthood. The weight of such responsibility isn’t always at the forefront of every conversation between a parent and child. Nor is the possibility that any given conversation could be the last. You don’t know how much time you have with someone on earth. Time is the one thing you can’t make more of — but what if you could relive past moments with lost loved ones? What if you could go back in time and say what you wished you could’ve said more often? Kashif Pasta’s “Desi Standard Time Travel” answers these questions with a gentle urgency. This sci-fi drama short finds a sweet narrative within the wishful train of thought that is, ‘If only I could go back in time’. The film tells a character-driven story centered on fatherhood and unconditional love. With an incredibly human story at the core of a fantastical plot, “Desi Standard Time Travel” is an enjoyable and poignant reminder to be present in life.
When new father Imran (Adolyn H. Dar) suddenly loses his own dad, an opportunity arises to travel back in time for an evening. Imran receives a call to accept a time travel voucher in his late dad’s name — in substitution of a will, this voucher is left behind for Imran to redeem wisely. He reflects on a time he was assembling a crib while on the phone with his dad. The conversation ended on a haunting note; that Imran will call one day, and his dad won’t be there to pick up. With regret and longing, Imran jumps at the opportunity to end things on a better note. But instead of the travel device taking Imran back to that particular phone conversation, he is transported to the early 90s — before he was born. His parents had recently immigrated to Canada. His father was not a father yet; he was on the cusp of it, awaiting Imran’s birth. When Imran steps into this 90s childhood home and is faced with a younger version of his father, the sense of rediscovery is overwhelming. His father didn’t have all the answers. He too felt uncertainty around becoming a parent for the first time.
The film packs plenty of resonating themes in a short timeframe, which is fitting for the overall message this story conveys about time itself. The relationship drawn between the concept of time travel and the fragility of life is beautifully depicted. The concept never overpowers the story; it has the opposite effect, where the characters and the family dynamics ground the sci-fi elements. Pasta’s direction, in addition to the screenplay he co-wrote with Nessa Aref, highlights intimate moments of being alone with your thoughts. You spend enough time with Imran’s character to understand he is quietly processing different stages of grief — from regret and anxiety, to much deeper realizations and his urge to understand as much about his dad as possible when presented the opportunity. Time travel as a plot device is used so intimately here, and is a touching reminder that the very concept of time after losing a loved one can be indistinguishable. Days blend together and before you know it, a year has passed. The abyss of grief can feel as though life has come to a standstill. “Desi Standard Time Travel” hits pause on the fast-forwarding of life in its unwavering focus on a father and son opening up to each other. Their emotional vulnerability, played beautifully by Adolyn H. Dar and Ali Kazmi, invites you to reflect on how present you are with your own loved ones.
Which particular moment in your parents’ life would you revisit, or want to learn more about? “Desi Standard Time Travel” poses just as many if not more questions than answers. Through an intimate use of the time travel concept, the film shines at its own pace and sparks moments of personal reflection. It’s a deeply personal story of second chances, new beginnings, and making memories full of joy. The decision to take the story back to before Imran was born stresses his parents’ individuality and particularly his father’s nerves about becoming a parent. The nostalgic warmth that radiates from Imran’s childhood home conveys a home full of love and possibility for what the next day will bring. "Desi Standard Time Travel" leaves you in a state of deep appreciation and wonder for the most cherished relationships in life.
“Desi Standard Time Travel” has screened across film festivals in Canada, and won a variety of awards including Best Short at Toronto Reel Asian. The film is currently in contention for a Canadian Screen Award this year; nominations will be announced on February 22.