Sami Malik (Danny Pudi) idolized his father who protected his village from marauding tigers and taught his son kindness and to help others. It is 1979 and, now grown up, Sami, who loves Ruby (Karen David), moves to America from his home and family in India to find his fame and fortune, and get the woman he loves, in “The Tiger Hunter.”
A man who sees great potential in himself pulls up his well-established stakes and moves to a new place, where he does not know anyone. He has the promise of a good job with good pay – just what he needs to woo his childhood sweetheart despite the animosity from her father, who thinks the guy unworthy of his daughter. But, the promise was false and he must start at the bottom in his quest to be a “professional American.”.
Throw into this familiar mix the guy’s need to find a place to stay, the threat of deportation and the chance meeting with another guy who invites him to stay at a place he shares with (colorful, amusing, over-educated and underemployed) roommates. Then, there is the opportunity for the guy to prove himself with a brilliant idea, only to have his boss take credit. Despite all of these obstacles, the guy gets the fame and fortune, and the girl, and everyone lives happily ever after.
That is the shell of a story that first-time feature director (and co-writer) Lisa Khan uses to touch all the bases in this coming-to-America tale. Danny Pudi does not reach much beyond his character from TV’s “Community” and never really rises above the other players. Sami’s roommates, all in the same boat as he, play quirky background inhabitants without much personality. One notable exception is Rizwan Manji as Babu, the guy who takes Sami in because “no-one help him” when he first arrived. This little gesture, and his own story, make Babu the best character in “The Tiger Hunter”
I like the flashback story to Sami’s dad, the titular character, who, while idolized as the man who saved his village from the tiger, has only acted in his role just once. It is the kindness of the man and his love for others that Sami must come to realize in his quest to conquer America. This sentimental interlude about a boy/man who realizes that fame and fortune are not the most important things in life, though this does not stop Sami from realizing that fame and fortune.
The moral of the story, which I actually agree with, is “being happy is finding greatness in how you live.” I’ll give the film that. I give it a C+.
"Paterson's" Rizwan Manji is the spice that lifts this cliched yet charming tale. C+
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