UNITED STATES: Based in New York, Tirlok Malik works as an actor and producer in Bollywood and Hollywood. He is known for making films about Indian immigrants in the U.S. such as Lonely in America, On Golden Years among many others.
As a child, Malik wanted to be an actor. When he was 10, Malik would gather the street boys and roleplay characters from films, with them. Then he started performing in high-school performances, then in college.
Following an artistic passion is risky, you may get a little success or you may have a flowery success, said Malik. “But following your passion makes you feel good, you wanted to try something and you did, so you feel fulfilled.”
With that focus, Malik went on to study films in New York. “It wasn’t easy, during that time Indians weren’t given many roles. But I was blessed, I received a lot of opportunities,” he said.
Eventually, Malik started making his own films in the States. “My journey in India and America has been wonderful. I now want to go international, because the world has become so small today and we can work everywhere.”
Making films on Indian immigrants
Most of Malik’s movies are regarding the conflict of migration from India to America. His films are for an Indian-American experience. Lonely in America was his first movie, it talks about how you accept the American dream, their culture and being a part of their simulation. Another movie, Love Lust and Marriage is about a doctor who becomes a victim of workaholism. His movie On Golden Years is about an ageing immigrant who thinks will go back to his country, so that he does not have any regrets.
“Migration comes with emotional conflicts, it can be from a small village to a big city, or it can be one country to another country. My films deal with that conflict. For a migrant, when you leave your own country, no matter what country you go to, you will always try to find a home. So the emotional conflict has no black and white, you say to yourself that I’m here so this is my home,” the filmmaker said.
Sahra Ardah talks about how mesmerized she is by India’s tradition and values. “I love it when I travel to India, I wear my saree and I feel so pretty in that closet. Out here we are all glitching, wearing the same kind of dresses. I have seen the immigration conflicts, so it must be very interesting to channelise this into movies.”
Further, Malik said that in his movies, he first presents a conflict, then goes through the whole emotional journey of his characters and in the end presents an upbeat and positive solution.
“It is very important to accept your emotions and then bring about a change. Adaptation comes with hard emotional work,” Malik said.
Watch the whole interview: