In Rahul Gandotra’s short film, “The Road Home,” the main character, Pico, is struggling to identify himself in the world. On the outside, Pico appears to be Indian, and everyone in India perceives him as such. However, Pico has spent most of his life in Great Britain, he speaks English, and he considers the U.K. to be his home.
What Pico is struggling with is hidden diversity. This can be defined as experiences that shape a person’s life and world view, but are not seen at first glance.
Hidden diversity is different from what one might usually imagine diversity to be, like race, ethnicity, and nationality — it’s what you feel inside, and what you understand yourself to be, which may be different from what you look like at first glance.
In one of Gandotra’s interviews, he says how he created the video as a defense of himself. He hated being mislabeled and misperceived as Indian when he felt in his heart that he was British. People he met in India were often offended when he rejected India as his home and his culture. They felt that he was ashamed of his Indian-ness, or forgetting his roots, when really, he felt extremely out of place in India and missed his English home.
In the film, we see Pico’s journey to self-understanding and self-acceptance through the people he meets.
The first person Pico interacts with is a taxi driver that takes pity on him. The taxi driver goes along with Pico’s desire to be taken to the airport for most of the film, as he talks to Pico and begins to understand the complexity of Pico’s situation and state of mind.
At the end of the film, the taxi driver takes Pico back to the boarding school, knowing that it’s what Pico needed, even if the boy wouldn’t admit it.
The second person Pico meets on this journey is a woman who seems to envy Pico’s situation. The woman sees that Pico has an amazing opportunity to embrace both parts of his identity — he could be both Indian and British.
Her remarks only enrage Pico though, to the point where he even calls her a racist when she remarks on the color of his skin.
Near the end of the film, after the taxi driver takes him back to the boarding school, Pico meets a couple of older tourists that ask him for directions in Hindi, arguing with each other over whether or not it would be helpful to speak to him in English, seeing him as only an Indian boy.
This notion that people would only see him as Indian until he spoke opened Pico’s eyes to the truth of his identity. Pico wouldn’t be able to escape his Indian identity — he could only accept that he knew in his heart what he was, even if other people didn’t understand that at first glance.