Shruti doesn’t know much about aliens, but she is certain that the woman claiming to be her mom has been replaced by one.
It all began when her elder brother, Paras, gave her one of his alien toys while the children were waiting for their mother to return to the train station. He claimed that by holding it, Shruti could discern which of the people at the busy station were humans and which ones were aliens.
Childlike gullibility and mysterious circumstances fuel For Real, a film that appears to be rather simple at first, but develops some pretty complex layers as it continues. After taking a mysterious six day trip away from the children for the first time, their mother, Priya, returns…and something about her seems odd. She’s not the vibrant, tender-hearted, long haired woman that Shruti remembers, and the more she tries to figure out what has become of her mother, the more frightened she becomes.
Zoya Hasan gives a great performance as Shruti, a girl who has probably seen and heard entirely too much for her young age. She manages to appear depressed and reserved, though she comes to life when she feels she is “safe” from the alien who claims to be her mother. Shruti jokes around with her brother and enjoys spending time with her father, but the pain in her heart is apparent even when she is given her favorite foods or engaged in her favorite activities.
The imagination of a child can actually be a misinterpretation of something much larger and very real, as we see in For Real. Shruti’s childish fears have a way of bringing to the surface the deepest, darkest truths of the family household. . Despite her worries, Shruti and her brother still behave like children and allow their imaginations to fuel more than their fears.
The cinematography is nothing to write home about, though the various shots of landmarks like the Taj Mahal and everyday occurrences in the street markets give the viewer a sense of what it feels like to live in metropolitan India. Set in New Delhi, For Real is an everyday story about a family with deep love for each other, despite a lack of communication skills. The film has some sad twists and turns, but it also offers a sense of hope. Messages of pain, freedom, innocence, and faith litter the film, and the ending leaves room for interpretation.