India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Ship of Theseus: Looking for the right answers

July 19, 2013

During an interview about his 2012 film “Shanghai”, director Dibakar Banerjee spoke about the difficulty of asking existential questions and portraying them coherently on the big screen.

Anand Gandhi, director of “Ship of Theseus”, has the same problem but is able to execute it almost perfectly, a task most filmmakers would have found difficult.

Gandhi explores the complex themes of beauty, life, death and ethics through three storylines that have one common thread – organ donation.

In the first story, blind photographer Alia finds regaining her eyesight changes her perspective on art. Gandhi is rather minimalistic in his style and avoids the trimmings. He focuses on the characters and their dilemmas, but cloaks these dilemmas in everyday language and banter, making them more relevant for the viewer.

Neeraj Kabi plays Maitreya, a frail monk fighting a battle against animal testing by pharma companies. He is diagnosed with a liver disease that requires him to consume products made by the same companies he is fighting. Maitreya finds strength in sparring with his clever, young lawyer who questions everything he stands for and makes his point disarmingly.

The film’s final thread focuses on a young man who sets out to seek justice for a labourer whose kidney was stolen, eventually finding redemption and closure in a tempestuous relationship with his grandmother.

The film’s cast is outstanding and Kabi especially deserves every award this year for his performance as Maitreya – you won’t forget him for a long time. The ideas “Ship of Theseus” puts forward are something we have all debated among ourselves at some level but for them to find expression on celluloid, in an almost nonchalant manner, is an experience in itself.

Gandhi’s film is unlike anything you have seen at the cinemas this year – and that could be a good or bad thing depending on your taste. This is not run-of-the-mill cinema but give it a chance.

 

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

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