Punching at the Sun

Director: Tanuj Chopra
Screenwriters: Tanuj Chopra, Hart Eddy

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


South Asian immigrant culture, post 9/11 politics, interracial relationships, violent streets, and the American firestorm of hip-hop culture all mix into a fierce concoction in Tanuj Chopra's vibrant and spirited first feature, Punching at the Sun.

Elmhurst, Queens, is a rough place for Mameet Nayak, a beautiful 17-year-old South Asian immigrant with a passion for basketball and a hair-trigger temper. It gets rougher when his older brother, Sanjay, is gunned down in the family convenience store. The loss leaves Mameet in a complicated state of mourning and adolescent nihilism. His rage and antagonism toward the world make him a magnet for trouble. His friends, Ritesh and Parnay, are hilarious company, though not particularly encouraging in Mameet's attempts to rise above the negative forces in his life. But an adorable neighborhood sneaker salesgirl, Shawni, offers a light of hope in cracking Mameet's self-destructive shell. And inspiring rap performances by the charismatic MC Uncle Sonny conjure Mameet's ability to find a sense of optimism in a violent world that he feels is determined to view him as an outsider.

Chopra draws passionate and genuine performances from his talented young cast, led by the gifted Misu Khan. Urgent and contemporary, Punching at the Sun sheds light on an American perspective rarely reflected on the screen, and glistens with the freshness and vital energy of a new directorial voice.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

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