Asha (Mahira Kakkar) is a film student in Prague, who sends a video message to Hank (Andrew Pastides), a filmmaker in New York City whose film Asha saw at a local festival. Hank responds in kind, sending a video reply, beginning a modern day technological pen pal situation where Hank and Asha become close friends, if not more, entirely via video messages. Not video chat, by the way; they record and edit video messages, and then send them on to each other.
To be honest with you, if I were reading the above synopsis, I wouldn’t necessarily be all that jazzed about seeing Hank and Asha. For some reason, the premise doesn’t seem to inspire interest in me either. However, since I actually watch the movies instead of just deciding on whether I’d like something based on the synopsis (especially one I wrote), I’m happy to say that the film is extremely entertaining.
And I think part of it is the distinction between video chat and video messages. Had it just been a film of back-and-forth Skype video chat sessions, for example, I think it’d become tiresome, particularly over the length of a feature film. Here, though, the video messages they’re sharing are more like short films, as they both indulge their filmmaking talents to explain more about their lives and where they come from. It adds a layer of professionalism and finesse to what otherwise could just be simple webcam conversations.
The other major appeal to this film is the performance of Mahira Kakkar as Asha. Not to take anything away from Andrew Pastides, who does a fine job, but Kakkar’s charismatic joy and energy drives the film forward. It’s the type of performance that can’t help but make you smile and, when things do get more emotional, you’re already so engaged with her character that you feel that much more for Asha.
In the end, Hank and Asha is a very entertaining film that is far more interesting in its execution than it may seem in simple explanation. It has the feel of a crowd-pleaser, and it wears its heart on its sleeve. With a character like Asha, how could it not?