Filmmaker Lena Khan's grandfather was a real life tiger hunter.

"He was this sort of larger than life legendary figure that everybody would always talk about. Obviously they would talk about the hunting ... and then all these weird stories — like oh, he used to dance on top of tables with roller skates," she said.

He's partly the inspiration behind her new movie The Tiger Hunter, which closes out the Vancouver Asian Film Festival on Sunday night.

Set in the 1970s, a young Indian engineer named Sami Malik (played by Community star Danny Pudi) immigrates to America to impress his childhood sweetheart and live up to the legacy of his father, a famous tiger hunter.

"The movie is mostly fictional but it did start out kind of based on my dad," she said.  Like the film's main character, Khan's father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s.

"The movie has this idea of how do you live up to this sort of larger than life father-figure when you can never achieve his level of success."

The Tiger Hunter Dad

Filmmaker Lena Khan said the heart of the film is the idea of living up to a larger-than-life father figure. Pictured here is main character Sami Malik's tiger-hunting father, played by Kay Kay Menon. (The Tiger Hunter/YouTube)

Khan, who graduated from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, said directing a film about the immigrant experience wasn't something she considered doing.

But with more calls for increased diversity in Hollywood, Khan found an opportunity for her first feature film.

"Long ago, I never would have made a movie about this brown dude as the main character but that's actually what people responded to most," she explained.

Khan said she wanted her film to focus on the funny, weird side of immigration, instead of the sad struggles often depicted in other films.

"A lot of people who immigrate here are extraordinarily happy ... and look back with nostalgia about all the funny, weird things that happened," she said.

Lena Khan

Filmmaker Lena Khan says her new movie The Tiger Hunter is mostly fictional, although her grandfather was a real-life tiger hunter. (Lena Khan/Facebook)

As for what her dad thinks about this homage, Khan said he had no expectations.

"He assumed the movie would be bad, but was pleasantly surprised," she laughed.

The Vancouver Asian Film Festival takes place from Nov. 3 - 6, 2016. The Tiger Hunter is being screened at the International Village on Sunday at 7 p.m. PT.

With files from The Early Edition


To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Living up to expectations with The Tiger Hunter