Steeped in the pop culture of liberalised India in the 1990s, multi-hyphenate Varun Grover’s semi-autobiographical debut feature All India Rank is a smart, bittersweet portrait of a nascent national hallucination. Leaning on Grover’s characteristically acerbic wit and eloquent lines, the film diagnoses the malaise of a society where children squander their best years living their parents’ dreams and parents let their self-worth repose on their children’s achievements.
With a sharp eye and a velvet glove, Grover, an IIT graduate himself, comes down on middle-class India’s repression, casual corruption and chronic inability to communicate. But All India Rank is a generous work in the way it allows Vivek a space to float in a state of not knowing what he wants, like “a moth among butterflies”. Vivek refuses to dream, and therein lies his salvation.