The work on “Barry” has started in October 2015, when Gandhi and his co-writer Adam Mansbach have completed the script. By December 2016, the production had to wrap up. While Obama is still a very important figure, his teenage story must be quite relevant for the majority of Americans. 


The Life Of Barry

Barry. Vikram GandhiThe film dwells upon the story of 20-year-old Barack Obama who has enrolled to the New York City’s Columbia University. The casting began only in March, so the creators had to work really quickly. Thus, they have chosen a newbie Devon Terrell to take on the lead part. In addition to him, Anya Taylor-Joy played Barry’s girlfriend, Charlotte, Ellar Coltrane became his roommate, Jason Mitchell starred as his classmate and Ashley Judd impersonated his mother. According to Vikram Gandhi, the main objective was to finish the project by December. The release had to take place before Obama leaves the White House for good. Consequently, in September they’ve signed a deal with Netflix to ensure sufficient promotion of the picture. But then, Donald Trump won the election.

Barry. Vikram Gandhi

The film primarily drew all the core information from Obama’s 1995 book Dreams From My Father. A personal story of a man, who came from a divergent background and dared to find his way as a true American, is inspirational and moving. However, in the light of the post-election frenzy, the whole idea of the film takes an absolutely different turn.

Gandhi didn’t have an intention to make a political movie. Contrariwise, he was eager to tell the story of a mixed-race adolescent fighting for his identity and going through the struggles of early life. But now, with the President-elect who is the face of white nationalism in America, the issues tackled in the film are viewed as some kind of a political statement. Still, regardless of all those perception changes, it is in no way a political picture.


The Heart Of The Story

Barry. Vikram Gandhi

According to Gandhi, Barack Obama’s personal teenage experience might be viewed as a kind of a superhero story. What makes it seem the one is the similarity in their personality formation. The character, who feels that he is different from others, has the choice – to drown in isolation or to adjust the world to his unique self. For instance, at the university, Obama always felt alienated and tried to distance himself from the campus life. In addition to that, we must acknowledge that he doesn’t only originate from a diverse mixed-race background, but also hasn’t known his own father at all. Those factors build up a heart-rending story of self-realization and search for identity.

An other particular trait of the film is that it absolutely ignores Barry’s later life. Hence, we shouldn’t bear in mind that this character is going to become the President of the USA. On the contrary, we are witnessing the life of a young man who’s not an upcoming political figure or a social activist. He is just a student, trying to find his way to personal freedom.

Vikram Gandhi attempted to picture the most emotionally valuable moments from Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father and other stories related to Obama’s life. As a matter of fact, this film is not a documentary. For example, one can deem inclusion of Charlotte’s character factually incorrect, but there wasn’t a goal to tell the facts. Charlotte is just a representation of all the girls Obama knew in his younger years. Thus, secondary characters are inspired by real people, but they shouldn’t shift the story’s core.


Obama’s Legacy On Film

Barry. Vikram Gandhi

After the November election, the legacy of Barack Obama is in question. Thus, Barry is determined to become one of the contributions to his personal image that will be left after he leaves his post for good. As any political story, Obama’s story is also deeply personal. Surely, everybody knows that Barack Obama is the first black President. Nevertheless, that is certainly not his main acknowledgement. He is a man who went through a lot of struggle from the poorest social strata to the White Cabinet. And it is undoubtedly inspiring.


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