Film preview

Before Barack Obama, there was ‘Barry’, basketball and romance

Vikram Gandhi’s biopic for Netflix focuses on Obama’s formative years at Columbia University in the early 1980s.

Barry is at a party, and his youth, intelligence and charm are not going unnoticed. A trans-sexual comes up to him and says, “Hey baby, you’re adorable. Do you like to party?” Barry pauses, neither accepting nor rejecting the overture. “Define party,” he says.

Vikram Gandhi’s biopic Barry is about the thoughtful young man who came before Barack Obama. The Netflix production, which will air from December 16, is filled with seemingly fleeting but eventually significant actions and encounters that shape the future President of the United States of America. Barry traces the period between 1981 and ’83 when Obama was studying political science at Columbia University in New York City. The mixed-race student (beautifully played by Devon Terrell) must have been beset by several doubts and internal debates, but one thought dominates Adam Mansbach’s absorbing screenplay: am I black or am I white?


The race question hangs over Barry’s affair with Charlotte (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), a wealthy white classmate. Barry is the second Obama biopic in a year to focus on the Democrat leader’s love life after Southside With You. Richad Tanne’s Southside With You, which was released in American cinemas in August, focussed on Obama’s first date with Michelle, his future wife, in 1989.

Charlotte is a composite of some of Obama’s white girlfriends during college. Barry slips easily into several diverse social circles, and has easygoing friendships with his Pakistani joint-living buddy Saleem (Avi Nash) and his black basketball playing friend (Jason Mitchell), but the relationship with Charlotte becomes a source of personal conflict.

Devon Terrell and Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘Barry’.
Devon Terrell and Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘Barry’.

Gandhi has previously directed the documentary Kumaré (2011), in which he impersonates a Hindu guru and sets up a cult in Arizona, as well as produced documentaries for the HBO series Vice. Born in America to Indian parents, the 38-year-old filmmaker was particularly interested in Obama’s college years in NYC. “I was just trying to find out who was this kid who went on to become the president later,” Gandhi said in a telephone interview. “You see the kid in this phase of his life where he is trying to figure out who he is.”

Since Gandhi was born and raised in NYC, the story had added resonance for the filmmaker. “New York for any young man is a place to open your eyes and see what the possibilities are and where you belong,” Gandhi said. “So many moments in the film have also come from my memories of myself when I was that age.”

Research for the 104-minute film involved revisiting information on Obama in the public domain, his own writings, news articles and tapes of his early book tours, and interviews with people who knew him during the his NYC period. “We got details down to the fact that he ate raisins, liked peanut sauce a lot, and played basketball,” Gandhi said. The life-altering experiences in the film include basketball games, Barry’s purchase of Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man, about an African-American man’s experiences with racism, and a party in Harlem that is meant to introduce him to a different kind of black experience.

Devon Terrell in ‘Barry’.
Devon Terrell in ‘Barry’.

Devon Terrell has Obama’s deliberate air, perfectly formed sentences, keen gaze and broad smile down pat. The performance is not mere impersonation, however. “I didn’t want an impersonator, and though Devon did look enough like Obama to be eligible, I wanted him to sound like Barack Obama,” Gandhi said. It helped that Terrell’s own background is a lot like Obama’s, which includes stretches in America, Hawaii and Indonesia. “Devon was born to an African-American father and an Anglo-Indian mother and grew up in Perth in Australia,” Gandhi said. “He too has a mixed race background and he didn’t fit in with white people, black people or Indians. I drew a lot from who Devon was for the film.” Gandhi created a “territory for Devon to stay within for 24 hours”, he said. The actor wore a Columbia University sweatshirt and lived in NYC, like the character.

Apart from being shown all over the world on Netflix, Barry will have a limited theatrical run in NYC and Los Angeles. It will be released on the same day as Rogue One, the Star Wars spin-off movie. “The film has the potential to be seen in 80 million homes, and it hard to speculate what a foreign audience will find in it,” Gandhi said. “It will be out on the same day as Rogue One, and it can be the film that people will watch if they don’t get to watch the Star Wars movie.”

Vikram Gandhi.
Vikram Gandhi.
We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

What’s the difference between ‘a’ washing machine and a ‘great’ washing machine?

The right machine can save water, power consumption, time, energy and your clothes from damage.

In 2010, Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, convinced a room full of people that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution. In the TED talk delivered by him, he illuminates how the washing machine freed women from doing hours of labour intensive laundry, giving them the time to read books and eventually join the labour force. Rosling’s argument rings true even today as it is difficult to deny the significance of the washing machine in our everyday lives.

For many households, buying a washing machine is a sizable investment. Oddly, buyers underestimate the importance of the decision-making process while buying one and don’t research the purchase as much as they would for a television or refrigerator. Most buyers limit their buying criteria to type, size and price of the washing machine.

Visible technological advancements can be seen all around us, making it fair to expect a lot more from household appliances, especially washing machines. Here are a few features to expect and look out for before investing in a washing machine:

Cover your basics

Do you wash your towels every day? How frequently do you do your laundry? Are you okay with a bit of manual intervention during the wash cycle? These questions will help filter the basic type of washing machine you need. The semi-automatics require manual intervention to move clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub and are priced lower than a fully-automatic. A fully-automatic comes in two types: front load and top load. Front loading machines use less water by rotating the inner drum and using gravity to move the clothes through water.

Size matters

The size or the capacity of the machine is directly proportional to the consumption of electricity. The right machine capacity depends on the daily requirement of the household. For instance, for couples or individuals, a 6kg capacity would be adequate whereas a family of four might need an 8 kg or bigger capacity for their laundry needs. This is an important factor to consider since the wrong decision can consume an unnecessary amount of electricity.

Machine intelligence that helps save time

In situations when time works against you and your laundry, features of a well-designed washing machine can come to rescue. There are programmes for urgent laundry needs that provide clean laundry in a super quick 15 to 30 minutes’ cycle; a time delay feature that can assist you to start the laundry at a desired time etc. Many of these features dispel the notion that longer wash cycles mean cleaner clothes. In fact, some washing machines come with pre-activated wash cycles that offer shortest wash cycles across all programmes without compromising on cleanliness.

The green quotient

Despite the conveniences washing machines offer, many of them also consume a substantial amount of electricity and water. By paying close attention to performance features, it’s possible to find washing machines that use less water and energy. For example, there are machines which can adjust the levels of water used based on the size of the load. The reduced water usage, in turn, helps reduce the usage of electricity. Further, machines that promise a silent, no-vibration wash don’t just reduce noise – they are also more efficient as they are designed to work with less friction, thus reducing the energy consumed.

Customisable washing modes

Crushed dresses, out-of-shape shirts and shrunken sweaters are stuff of laundry nightmares. Most of us would rather take out the time to hand wash our expensive items of clothing rather than trusting the washing machine. To get the dirt out of clothes, washing machines use speed to first agitate the clothes and spin the water out of them, a process that takes a toll on the fabric. Fortunately, advanced machines come equipped with washing modes that control speed and water temperature depending on the fabric. While jeans and towels can endure a high-speed tumble and spin action, delicate fabrics like silk need a gentler wash at low speeds. Some machines also have a monsoon mode. This is an India specific mode that gives clothes a hot rinse and spin to reduce drying time during monsoons. A super clean mode will use hot water to clean the clothes deeply.

Washing machines have come a long way, from a wooden drum powered by motor to high-tech machines that come equipped with automatic washing modes. Bosch washing machines include all the above-mentioned features and provide damage free laundry in an energy efficient way. With 32 different washing modes, Bosch washing machines can create custom wash cycles for different types of laundry, be it lightly soiled linens, or stained woollens. The ActiveWater feature in Bosch washing machines senses the laundry load and optimises the usage of water and electricity. Its EcoSilentDrive motor draws energy from a permanent magnet, thereby saving energy and giving a silent wash. The fear of expensive clothes being wringed to shapelessness in a washing machine is a common one. The video below explains how Bosch’s unique VarioDrumTM technology achieves damage free laundry.


To start your search for the perfect washing machine, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.