Home Reviews Spelling The Dream Documentary Review – An Inspiring Watch Despite Flat Moments

Spelling The Dream Documentary Review – An Inspiring Watch Despite Flat Moments

By Binged Siddartha Toleti - June 4, 2020 @ 3:06 pm
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Spelling The Dream Documentary Review - An Inspiring Watch Despite Flat MomentsBOTTOM LINE:An Inspiring Watch Despite Flat Moments

Rating: Not Applicable

Skin N Swear: None

Platform: Netflix Genre: Documentary

Spelling The Dream is the latest documentary from Netflix stable. Its focus is on the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship that is dominated by the Indian Americans for the almost two decades now.

Sam Rega directs Spelling The Dream, which has a short runtime of less than one and a half hour. It chronicles the journey of the phenomenal success of Indian Americans at the championship, from the beginning. The cultural impact it had on the American Indian community in the US and migrants reception, in general.

The historical perspective puts the narrative into a proper context. It emphasizes how the competition become so crucial for the small minority Indian community without wasting taking up too much time or being overdramatic. It also highlights the (first) achievement subtly. Subsequently, the impact of the victory felt on the Indian community can’t be missed.

The real focus though is on the participants, their preparations (joys and sorrows) and what it means to the Indian-American community in the broader American Dream perspective. These different elements are infused smoothly into the narrative with digressing at any point. The narrators, also Indian Americans, add their inputs to keep the flow engaging.

The success of director Sam Rega lies in the fact that, even people who are not away of any history or background can instantly identify with the proceedings. The information regarding the competition and its finer details like the entry, age limit, groups, telecast and such are blended neatly into the narrative.

The four Indian American families with different Indian backgrounds bring the much-needed diversity factor into play. Otherwise, it could be just four robotic kids going through the competition. Each one following a different method and showing unique behaviour makes the proceedings interesting. Also, the hard work they go through is appropriately and clearly understood. It makes the Indian’s winning come across as well earned and not just something that is happening by chance or luck.

The real high moments thought are present in the competition itself. The tension of the spelling bee game is well caught, and so are the reactions of losing. The whole track of Shaurav, for example, is perfect in this aspect. We feel the heartbreak. Similarly, with the young genius Aakash, the taste of the first-time failure and then the presence of hope is well documented. It helps in putting an end to questions like –what would be thrilling in a spelling bee competition.

At times, the too Americanized polishing of the presentation and humour generated through self-critical awareness (Hari Kondabolu) seems to be pandering too much into the ideal American appeasement space. Instead, a little bit more focus on the racial tension (only insinuated here) could have added a lot more depth to the narrative.

The narrators and the four different participants, ultimately are what keeps Spelling The Dream alive. They bring the energy to the proceedings whenever it seems like going in a flat manner. There is a delicate balance from the writer and director in showing these perspectives with difference without losing focus of the core content. It makes Spelling The Dream a smooth ride from the start to end, despite some short giving’s.

Overall, if you are from the US, there is a lot that would be relatable and provide instant connection. If you are not and from India, there is much to look forward, that is engaging, entertaining. In either case, there is an underlying inspiration aspect. For that inspiring part alone, Spell The Dream is an easy one time watch.

Spelling The Dream Documentary Review by Siddartha Toleti 

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