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Encounter is a 2021 sci-fi thriller directed by Michael Pearce, a truly talented writer and director. Michael Pearce is known for his insightful handling of complex genres. He has won accolades for his short film Rite in 2010 and a BAFTA for Beast in 2019.

His latest film, Encounter, is extraordinary in every sense — storyline, screenplay, dialogues, and direction. The cast includes Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, Rory Cochrane, Lucian-River Chauhan, and Aditya Geddada. Encounter premiered at the 48th Telluride Film Festival on September 3, 2021. The movie was released on December 3, 2021, by Amazon Studios and will start streaming on Prime Video on December 10. 

Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) is a Marine Corps veteran who, with his kids (Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada), is on the run from the military to save them from an alien invasion. The two boys, unknowingly, race to the back seat of the car, excited to accompany their dashing dad on a father-son road trip. Malik persuades his two sons to become his trusted companions on a trip to save the human race. The movie has the thrill of adventure, undeniable swag, and camaraderie. And there is more…

Film still from ‘Encounter’.
Film still from ‘Encounter’.

Chauhan’s role as Jay Khan is complex and challenging. As a preteen, he has a lot of questions about his father’s relationship with their mother Piya Khan (Janina Gavankar). On one hand, Jay wants to be loyal to Malik but he has protective instincts towards his younger brother Bobby Khan. Both boys are, naturally, concerned about their mother (Malik’s ex-wife) and want to go back home. But will they be able to retrace their path? To find out the culmination of their mysterious adventure and how Hattie (Octavia Spencer) helps them from getting hurt when the road trip turns into a manhunt, you’ll have to watch the movie!

I particularly appreciate the reference to The Three Musketeers, a historical adventure novel written by the French novelist Alexandre Dumas in 1844. Riz Ahmed certainly fits the swashbuckling genre like a glove. I have followed Riz Ahmed’s burgeoning acting career. He was nominated for an Oscar in the Sound of Metal (2021) and has won two Emmys, two Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three British Independent Film Awards. Riz Ahmed’s stage name as a political activist and rapper is Riz MC. He has raised money for Rohingya and Syrian refugee children. The more I listen to his interviews, the more I like him.

Riz Ahmed is the quintessential Desi kid-next-door with a large family. No wonder he was able to interact so effortlessly with Lucian-River Chauhan (a very gifted and serious actor at the young age of 11 years) and Aditya Geddada, who is just bursting with energy and is an irrepressible improviser (he did not read the script). Both young actors enjoyed Riz’s company and the trio rapped together on the set. How cool is that? I am sure their future is bright. To see their brilliance, take the time to watch Encounter!


Monita Soni grew up in Mumbai, India, and works as a pathologist in Alabama. She is well known for her creative nonfiction and poetry pieces inspired by family, faith, food, home, and art. She has written two books: My Light Reflections and Flow through my Heart. She is a regular contributor to NPR’s Sundial Writers Corner.


Monita Soni

Monita Soni grew up in Mumbai and works as a pathologist in Alabama. She is well known for her creative nonfiction and poetry pieces inspired by family, faith, food, home, and art. She has written two...