Spelling The Dream Review: A fabulous documentary that operates like a true blue thriller!

Siddarth Srinivas -

Spelling The Dream Review: A fabulous documentary that operates like a true blue thriller!
Movie Rated
All Ages


Following four hopeful competitors, this documentary explores Indian Americans' decade-long success at the biggest spelling contest in the U.S.

Format: Documentary 
Platform: Netflix
Movie Rated: 13+
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Digital Premiere Date: 3 June 2020


Documentaries are usually classified as ‘boring’ material for those used to mainstream films. But once in a while, we get a documentary that provides so much thrill and fun - you won’t find this level of excitement in an actual feature film. This time, we are talking about Spelling the Dream, Netflix’s latest documentary which showcases the epic story of four individuals who compete for the Scripps Spelling Bee competition.
What’s the story about?
Spelling the Dream tells us the story of Akash, Shourav, Ashrita and Tejas – four Indian-Americans who train and compete for the Scripps Spelling Bee competition in 2017. The documentary takes its time in the first half to enlighten us on the lifestyle, background and training practices of the four kids and then turns the narrative on its head to make up a tense thriller where participants battle it out against the dictionary for the epic title.

The four characters of the show come from various backgrounds, and the way they are introduced to us makes it super entertaining to watch. While Shourav reveals the tricks that he has used over the years in the form of an Excel sheet database, Akash’s multi-lingual approach and chatterbox speech is a charming one. Ashrita’s love for the language and the fact that she uses ‘research’ methods to learn herself, while Tejas’ has his own way of breaking down words into syllables and definitions, to get his job done. The show basically takes a look into the four different techniques that the kids employ to learn different words, and then takes us into the arena of the competition. This is where it gets really interesting, as we connect with the characters in just a short period of time and start rooting for them when the competition begins. And that is the success of the show.

Director Sam Rega has skillfully set up the tension in the film, by following the path of the four contestants so well and also managing to set up the scenario of the competition superbly. All the four main characters come with their special traits, which make them extremely likeable apart from the skill sets they possess. This is what makes Spelling the Dream so interesting to watch, with more fun in the latter part of the film where we are fed with loads of thrills as they spell out the words, one by one.
Music and Other Departments
The narration is accompanied by some real good music and camerawork capturing the real-life stories, which gives the film what it needs.


It is hard not to fall in love with the four main contestants, especially the little kid Akash and the genius of Shourav. With a runtime of just 83 minutes, Spelling the Dream makes every minute worth your attention.
I didn’t find anything too distracting.
Did I enjoy it?
This is one of the documentaries I truly enjoyed, as it dealt with every aspect surrounding the characters and their journeys in the competition.
Do I recommend it?
Of course, this is one that you should watch with the kids in your family, to help inspire them to chase their dreams in whatever way possible.



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