Posts Tagged ‘Anand Gandhi’

SHOWTIMES

HumaraMovie’s short-film anthology Shuruaat Ka Interval is now playing in select cinemas in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad (see showtimes above). What’s more- there is also an Audience Choice Award for the favorite film of the viewers.

The winner of the Shuruaat Ka Interval festival 2014 will be chosen directly by the audience. After watching the films, you can either vote in the cinemas (you will be handed ballots for the same) or vote right here. The winner will be given a cash prize of 1 Lakh and this will be announced after the films complete their run at the cinemas. So do watch and vote for your favorites below:

 

 

Shuruaat Ka Interval

PVR Director’s Rare & HumaraMovie are presenting the short film festival/anthology Shuruaat Ka Interval, which includes 8 shorts from various filmmakers, chosen and mentored by filmmakers Imtiaz Ali, Vikramaditya Motwane, Anand Gandhi & Vikas Bahl. Shortlisted candidates had access to script consultants- Bijesh Jayarajan (Yudh), Ritesh Shah (Kahaani, D Day, City Lights), Rajashree ‘urf’ Raju and Kshiti Nijhawan Agrawal. They also had access to Mukesh Chhabra and his team for casting.

All the films are based on one theme: ‘Interval’, which has been interpreted in a different, unique way by each filmmaker. Watch the trailer and read the synopsis of each short film below:

SYNOPSES of the Short Films:

1. August by Shishir Jha: Good and Evil, Yin and Yang… The continuous dichotomy of life. The path is not always a choice. A subtle interpretation of this paradox. Does the butcher only kill?

2. The Last Audition by Krishan Hooda: Anand Kumar is a struggling actor consumed by the struggle. The attempt to land a role, and the effects of the audition take over his life. He live, breathes, sleeps this process. In this obsessed role, does Anand land himself the ticket to stardom? Or does this obsession lead to his ruin? A dark tale of one’s life when you cannot differentiate life and camera!

3. No Exit by Ankit Tripathi: Is life a burden? Is memory the only thing which binds us together? Is that the reason for our misery? Cycle of life and death- is there an exit option?

4. Ayan by Amrit Raj Gupta: In the best traditions of farce- what happens when your main character disappears during the interval of a play. Do you rework the play? Can you rework the play? How do the other characters react? A laugh fest when the characters of Ramayan become real backstage.

5. Interval 3D by Palash Vaswani: What happens when a character from a Ramsay Brothers-style B Grade horror flick meets the audience? Shock, awe, funny- a ridiculous scenario from which you can only laugh your way out!

6. Bubbles and Stars by Rukhshana Tabassum: If the characters of a play were to indulge in their reverie, would their interactions be meaningful? Shot completely in black & white, a beautiful tale which reminds you of films of the silent era and what actually makes us love films

7. Final Interval by Aarti Bagdi: This is the story of a housewife, a mother, a mother-in-law, a grandmother, a superwoman. She binds the extended family together. And she needs a break!

8. Gatekeeper by Atanu Mukherjee: Gatekeeper revolves around the life of a man who guards a railway crossing. His only source of excitement in life is watching the trains passing by. Is there something which intrudes in this monotony? Or can this monotony be enjoyable?

Shuruaat Ka Interval releases in select cinemas in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune on 15 August, 2014.

gulabi

It’s a great time for desi documentaries. In the recent past we have seen some pretty terrific ones- Malegaon Ka Superman, The World Before Her and Katiyabaaz to name just a few. Which is why it’s a pity that Nishtha Jain’s powerful documentary Gulabi Gang hasn’t quite got the audience it deserves- yet.

Perhaps the makers ought to have employed the Gulabi Gang themselves to whack our lazy, torrent-savvy audiences into theaters. 😉   The film is now running in its second week in a select few theaters/cities with ticket rates further slashed. There’s no good excuse to miss this one, really.

Anyway, here we have an interesting post by Prashant Parvatneni on Gulabi Gang and how genres usually associated with (fiction) cinema can find their way into the documentary format as well. Over to him:

Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain is undoubtedly a rigorous study of a women’s movement in the deep interiors of Bundelkhand where a group of women networked between several villages have formed a ‘gang’ to fight against the oppression of women and dalits. They drape themselves in Pink sarees and carry pink lathis that becomes an image of the identity that binds these women. There are complex issues that these women are dealing with and fighting. Young brides are being burnt, dalit activists murdered and certain high-caste Choudharies have concentrated all power in their hands suppressing any and every dissent using gun and muscle power. It is this nexus of power and oppression that the Gulabi Gang is trying to tear apart under their feisty leader Sampat Pal.

Sampat Pal inevitably becomes the ‘hero’ of this film, her infectious zest and fearlessness naturally grabs the attention and it’s hard not to root for her like we would for the angry underdog taking on the system in a Bollywood film. It only helps that Jain adopts a form of narrative that is simple in structure but quite inventive. It follows 2-3 cases that Gulabi Gang encounters and as it does so, quite curiously these cases turn to a kind of whodunit with the Gang acting as detectives trying to uncover the truth behind the violence inflicted on women.

pink

Like in one of the cases, a young wife is found burnt inside the house. When Sampat reaches the spot, the in laws of the woman claim that she got burnt while making rotis but Sampat in true detective spirit, deduces that it cannot be a mere mishap. There wasn’t any stove at the spot, nor was any other part of the house burnt or even charred. Sitting in the audience even we also could start the process of knitting the clues together and deducing while also being acutely aware of entire machinery which includes the panchayat and the police trying to push this crime under the carpet. Sampat Pal’s own relative burns his wife but she wants the truth to come out. When the director’s voice asks her will you fight against your kin as well, she replies inspiringly ‘I just want to find out the truth’. Quite fittingly then, Anand Gandhi (director, Ship of Theseus) called this film a ‘reinvention of detective genre’.

This is a welcome change as the problem with most documentary films dealing with social evils, people’s movements, subaltern issues etc. is that they have sort of reached a saturation of form. While they do deal with a variety of issues, they follow the same old form – interview of key players, a bit of commentary, a bit of field action all merged seamlessly to ‘illustrate’ and ‘explain’ and thereby ‘document’ the problem. Such a form has turned even more uninteresting with its derivatives populating news channels through their ‘human stories’.

Thankfully the film doesn’t stop short of also pointing towards the limits of such genres that evidently end with a resolution a climax arrived at through carefully plotted series of events. Unlike in a detective genre film, we do not get to know whether the culprit was caught or not. Often the battles are lost and the guilty gets away. But like the truest of detective stories, the importance lies in questioning what one gets on face value rather than solving the puzzle and Gulabi Gang does point our attention towards the need to inquire and shakes up the static status quo.

Instead of a gradual convergence towards a resolution of problem, the film starts to spread in and out of such inquiries of cases and looks at the varied other forms of struggle that a people’s movement engages in – organization, activism, mobilization, planning etc. One of the most charming and equally thought provoking sequences involves the meetings and the practice sessions of the Gulabi Gang. As a ritual Gulabi Gang practices lathi fights with a playful zest as two women take on each other while others on the periphery cheer and clap. It quite casually points towards a ritual- even a ritual of violence (though more for protection in this case) that is involved in any people’s movement.

The entire movement also resembles a theatrical performance. There is backstage practice and rituals and there are costumes and props – the pink sarees and pink lathis juxtaposed against the dry, arid brown and gray landscape is an image that gives tremendous gravitas to the Gang and binds them into a community. In fact the saree and the lathi are the first things that are given to the women who join Gulabi Gang and they have to change into the ‘costume’ right away. There is a slightly comic cut in the film where we see Sampat Pal encouraging the mother of the burnt bride to fight her case and in the next shot the frail creature of the mother is draped in bright new pink saree as she is on her way to the court with the Gang. It’s a terrific reminder of how a bit of theatre and performance is a part of every movement or revolution. It also reminds us how such performativity can be appropriated for contradictory causes – for assertion of justice or for religious or political fanaticism.

Gulabi Gang ends with tragic human drama as the documentary manages to trace a character arc of sorts of one of the Gang’s members – Husna. Husna, a hardworking and passionate activist and member of Gulabi Gang takes a position completely contradictory to the movement when her own brother kills her sister for marrying out of love. When she supports him instead of condemning in the name of culture and tradition, one is hit by the extent to which such fundamental, patriarchal ideas can deride compassion and human justice and what a difficult battle Gulabi Gang is fighting – not just externally but internally. For me, the film was special because it shows how certain genres – like detective, political, social drama, human drama genres – can seep into documentary also; in-fact they come from the reality that the documentary often deals with. But, it also shows how cinema can avoid using genre as a trope and move in an out of genres to question the complexity instead of using such genre games to manipulate sentiment and to take an easy position of a sympathizer. The last sequence shows Gulabi Gang members waiting for a train on the platform and few men looking at these women clad in Pink Sarees with contemptuous humor. For them they look nothing short of fancy dress. One of the men asks the man who moves around with the Gang – ‘kuch milta hai issse’. The director shows amazing empathy here as she cuts to the image of Sampat Pal staring into the camera or perhaps into the far horizon, sitting amidst other women with eyes filled with acceptance of difficulty but shining with a rare honest hope. All the contempt of the scene just washes away and we are filled not with sentiment but with emotion – an unsaid but urgently felt hope and a desire at least to think.

 

(This post was originally published here.)

What’s the fun if a film doesn’t get its share of contrarian views? And with all honesty, not for the sake of it. So over to Aditya Sudarshan who ponders over the latest indie film which is the toast of the town.

SoT

(Contains plot information)

By now, Ship of Theseus is a phenomenon. From UK critics to Bollywood directors, from Dibakar Bannerjee to Karan Johar, it has been hailed as an absolute, once-in-a-blue-moon work of genius. That these opinions are honest, that the film genuinely spoke to people, is not being questioned here. The question I am asking is: Why? How? And what does this say about us- sociologically?

I say ‘sociologically’, because as art goes, I am going to argue that Ship of Theseus features a level of thought that can at best be termed ‘half-baked’, and a level of storytelling which is strictly average. And perhaps if either of these elements had been different- for better or worse- the flaws of the movie would have become indisputably clear. It’s easy to recognize that a film which has nothing to say and says it badly, is bad- take any example from mainstream Bollywood. It’s also easy to recognize ‘grand failures’- for example, Terrence Malik’s Tree of Life, grounded as it is in actually deep philosophy, shows up its failed story-telling. But deception arises when a movie has nothing particular to say and says it not too badly. In the case of SoT, this multiplication of mediocrity has passed as good- and then, wedded to the truly beautiful cinematography, has passed as genius.

Why is the thought in SoT mediocre? Because name-dropping is not the same as knowledge. Because being enamoured of philosophy is not the same as doing philosophy. In the history of human thought, the Grecian paradoxes, like Theseus’, and Zeno’s (who asked how a man could cross a room, when he must first cross half the room and before that half of the half and so on infinitely), have actually been tackled. Understanding what infinity really implies is a part of the answer. Getting to grips with ‘God’ is a part of the answer.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I am starting to engage seriously  with questions that SoT does not even seriously raise. And the key word here is seriously. If SoT had seriously put forth a vision of a Godless universe where karmic causality is the only truth (as in the lines from the monk’s chant, Naham Janami), of a world without boundaries where we are really not individuals but colonies, where there is no intrinsic right or wrong but only consequences to actions- had the movie had this power, then it would have made sense to plunge into such discussions.

The very fact that these discussions seem unwarranted and ‘too much’ here, is testimony to SoT’s half-heartedness. After all, enjoying a mantra is not the same as understanding its meaning. The mystery of free-will is not disposed off because a long-haired lawyer has read an anecdote about the behaviour of ants. Our moral sense of right and wrong is not shown to be illusory because an old woman with a broken leg has probably read ‘The Secret’.

What such scenes and dialogues do, is flatter viewers into believing they have engaged with deep and significant truths, when really they have merely gawked at them- from a very, very safe distance.

I have less to write about the story-telling, because as I said earlier, had it not been for their supposed philosophical weight, I doubt these stories would in any case have been so praised. Without doubt, the three stories in SoT all feature interesting, meaningful premises and strong performances. But the film fails to confront a single great crisis in any of them. All together, they are a bundle of beginnings. The story of the blind photographer reaches her crisis- and rests there. Why and how the monk’s faith alters, and what the alteration really means to him- is untold. And humour and stock cliches (the ‘fat sidekick’, the ‘hapless slum-dweller’) become means to escape engagement with the real moral realities of ‘do-gooding.’ When the grandmother says the line that closes the third story (prior to the epilogue)- ‘itna hi hota hai‘- she could well be talking about the whole movie. So you thought Ship of Theseus would really say something? Arre bhai- ‘itna hi hota hai‘.

I hope it will be noted here that I’m not heaping any insults whatsoever on this film. I don’t say it’s pretentious. I don’t say it’s dishonest. It is, in my opinion, almost touchingly honest- the way an adolescent enamoured of big ideas- and unequal to them- is touchingly honest. Unconsummated ideas, unconsummated stories, there are all the honest expressions of an over-awed and wonder-struck mind.

What is not ok, is for such an un-rigorous and adolescent piece of work (and ‘adolescent’ here, I emphasize, is not a pejorative, but a term of description), to pass as a mature masterpiece. This brings me to the question I started with and am also closing with, because I am going to think about it further myself. (And this is the only real food for thought SoT left me with). Why is this movie a phenomenon? Are we such suckers for beautiful cinematography? Surely not. Or are we so starved for any spiritual ideas in our lives whatsoever, that we can’t recognize cooked material from uncooked? I think perhaps this is close to the answer. Perhaps we have kept ourselves so desperately stranded from the big questions- the meaning of life, religion, morality, God- that even a child-made raft, passing by our desolation, can be hailed by us as our flag-ship.

(Aditya Sudarshan is the author of two novels, A Nice Quiet Holiday (Westland Books, 2009) and Show Me A Hero (Rupa and Co., 2011) and several plays, including The Green Room, winner of the Hindu Metroplus Playwright Award for 2011.)

Booked your tickets yet? Do it first. Then come back to this post. This isn’t the usual hyperbole. It’s really good and rare chicken soup for your soul. And so the film straight goes into our list of “Must Watch” films.

Our regular contributors Varun Grover, Svetlana Naudiyal, Mihir Desai and Sumit Purohit tells you what the film meant to them, why it spoke the way no other Indian film has done in a long time, and why you should not miss this one at any cost.

And as the norm goes with most of our posts, these are not formal reviews. Just ramblings. Why four? Well, we are going with the theme of of the film – three for three stories and one to connect it all. or something like that. Aha, call it cheap thrill and read on.

Ship MFC

Cinema of duality

by Varun Grover

I have been struggling with this scenario for some time now, this concept of duality. Not in a spiritual sense (that is still many years away I think) but in a very daily-life sense. Have been swinging between left and right ideologies, between Arundhati Roy and her detractors,  between hedonism of sab chaat lo/bator lo and nihilism of sab chootiyapa hai, between the urge to document every travel trip through photographs/ticket stubs  and the need to live in the moment making the concept of posterity sound like a well-manufactured fraud, and many other, similar conundrums.

Anand Gandhi picks up three such stories of duality, set in three different worlds, and binds them together through the philosophical paradox of Ship of Theseus. If that sounds heavy then yes, ambition-wise the film is this heavy. But the beauty is that the team has pulled-it off with great cinematic value in each frame and line of writing. It’s refreshing, beautiful, insightful, and as gripping as a well-made thriller.

The philosophical moorings never get in the way of entertainment or storytelling, the two core elements people safely assume missing from any film termed an ‘Indie’.  And that, I think, is the greatest success of Ship of Theseus. Here’s an Indie that appeals to the mind as well as the heart. We don’t need to love it out of some guilt for the poor filmmaker who sold his house and ate only vada-paav for 1008-days non-stop to fund the film. We don’t need to love it because it’s arbitrary and arty and we don’t get it but ‘Mint Lounge or Caravan are loving it so we must too’ pressure.  We can love it with all our understanding, ego, and guiltlessness intact, like we love any mainstream film.  It’s like health food that doesn’t taste like health food.

The 3 stories – a visually-impaired photographer about to get new eyes, an atheist monk and stand-up comic cum lawyer sparring on about the relative value of an animal’s (and human’s) life, and a man with a new kidney having doubts about the legality and ethics of the transplant – explore one genuine doubt each (माकूल शक़  as KK Raina said in Ek Ruka Hua Faisla) about existence and mortality.

The characters are talking a language rarely heard before on Indian cinema’s screens.  The language of loaded words and of a life lived in knowledge. Though I’ve met some people who found the language to be faux-intellectual and the 2nd story a bit too verbose.  I think it’ll come down to how invested in the basic conflict of the story you are. Do you want to know more about the layers of conflict at hand or are just happy seeing the surface and are now mumbling ‘Haan samajh gaye…ab aagey story bataao na!’ Like after watching a great film, I spend hours reading about it on the internet. Director’s interviews, googling ‘<film name> explained’, trivia, theories, hate it generated – everything.  Sometimes I know how much I liked the film only after realizing I have spent 2 days reading up on it. I think same theory works here – if you find the core debate interesting, you will enjoy the शास्त्रार्थ going on between the monk and stand-up comic. (And what is a stand-up comic if not a modern-day version of debate-loving, analyzing, theorizing monks we read about in stories from mythology, people who debate just for the heck of it. So in a way, 2nd story is a debate on morality between two monks/comics from two different time periods.)

If a film’s merit is in showing a new world with great authenticity and insight, then Ship of Theseus shows us three. And to top that, terrific performances, excellent background score, one brilliant song in Prakrit, and consistently sharp photography throughout made this most-awaited Indian film of the year for me absolutely worth the hype.

Ship Of Theseus

“You chose your journey long before you came upon this highway”

by Svetlana Naudiyal

I really don’t know what to say amidst the deluge of opinions and interviews and reviews. Social media is flooding with them and here I am, adding my own two bit to that. Will saying that I’ve seen it thrice already at different occasions and will happily (and surely) see it again, suffice?

Quite lazily and shamelessly, I am kind of reiterating something I wrote earlier this year for this very same blog. Primarily because, I think kisne padha hoga. And secondly, what I think about the film, it hasn’t changed a bit.  (Also, maybe now I can add some of those so-called spoilers.)

Ship of Theseus invents a language. Not just in terms of cinema, but in terms of thought. It compels you to go home and read. If not read, then at least think.  (At times when we spend our lives not thinking, you may discover that ‘thinking’ is a wonderful exercise). It takes you closer to your own self and yet far away from it, where almost unintentionally you find yourself objectively pondering over your own self and its relationship with the world around.

It is so evolved in thought and yet so accessible. Sophisticated, mature and nowhere in the remote vicinity of pretentiousness. And yet it is light like a feather, a pleasant watch replete with humour. (And in case I haven’t yet reiterated enough in indirect phrases, the film stems from life itself.)

The blind photographer’s search for meaning in being able to see, the monk’s dilemma and the stockbroker’s quest for purpose in his own life. You may like a story little less and another a little more, but it is the whole they construct that runs like a background score for you after you’ve seen the film.  In our Cinema, where do we see references to something like Unilateralis Cordyceps,  Charvak and Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster anyway? Or to introduce a blind photographer, to have a song in ‘Prakrit’, to choose Sweden (Sweden is rated to be one of the most fair and just social systems in the world – this little piece of info comes from the filmmaker, not my discovery. I just crosschecked a bit.)

I also love how the film resorts to traveling. (More of a personal connect, may be, for a firm believer of the idea that any meaning that can ever be found is during a journey). From wandering to a far off valley in Himachal to cave diving in Manipur, a journey into the infinite and open world within.

[May be next week, we could compile a post listing the brilliant moments of the film. There are many. The only one I would probably want to mention for now is Maitreya’s encounter with what seems like death. In each viewing, at that particular moment and in every reflection about that moment, I’ve found myself come to a standstill. Needless to mention, if a film can capture that particular feeling, that moment in all its freezing cold reality, one can imagine how close to life the film is.]

Having said that, I must also admit that I’ve wondered if I’m breathing too much meaning into the film for its (and my) own good. I’ve refuted my own thoughts, with reasons ranging from beauty in lack of perfection to the subjectivity of what we call perfect. I’ve oscillated between “if this is a very well done pop philosophy” to “if this could have been deeper, darker” or something else, something more. Whether it is too much on words or too little on silence? But then again, those questions are personal, subjective and could be irrelevant to someone else who might not or might appreciate the film in a very different way for very different reasons.

Here’s where I found a bit of my answer –

Quoting Anand

An early treatment scribble

I’ve made a conscious choice of dialogue over action in several scenes in the script. I felt a strong urge to revert the “show, don’t tell” thumb rule, to the extent that many scenes cut abruptly at their most dramatic high point, and then in the following scenes, the characters narrate, through casual conversation, their experience of the dramatic moment. I analysed this urge to distance myself from the heart of the action. I discovered that I find some human experiences too deep, intimate and emotionally stirring to try and capture on camera. Also the immediacy and the drama of the experience end up fogging the essence, which seems to come out more honestly in the objective after-experience reflection. When a character talks about a moment experienced in the previous scene, it is not intended as a guide for the audience, but rather as an experiential lens, through which the audience lives the moment twice – once through the speculation of the dramatic high point of the moment led towards by the author, which being never shown, is experienced in the imagination, and then, the moment redefined through a tinted world-view of the character.”

It is in being the narrow, delicate bridge between simplicity and complexity, the singularity and duality of the quest for meaning, that Ship of Theseus is poetry reinstating itself as cinema, or vice versa.

Will it change your life? Maybe not. Life changing events and experiencing deep meaningful literature or cinema, are known to be mutually exclusive. But the film is sure to rekindle a little hope and a little faith or maybe a little more.

(p.s. In the 100 years of Indian Cinema brouhaha all around, Ship of Theseus arrives as a perfect anti-tribute and thankfully so! Here’s to The New!)

Ship Of Theseus

Let It Sail

by Mihir Desai

I didn’t want Ship of Theseus to end. The philosophical depth and visual beauty put me in a mind space that movies don’t tend to these days. I didn’t want to come out of it, back to mediocrity where filmmakers take their audience for granted. SoT treats the audience as equal, it gives an opportunity to reflect and interact with the thoughts presented in the film. Anand Gandhi very carefully crafts a film that raises questions about identity, ethics and evolution. The three stories within the film come together in what could be the best closing shot of the year! The film doesn’t take the easy route of leaving things up to ‘audience interpretation,’ instead it gives its audience some food for thought, without being preachy.

Ship of Theseus is truly made with an independent spirit. This is an example of what DSLRs are capable of doing. The visuals will prove once again that for DIY and low budget filmmakers, DSLRs are still a worthy investment. Pankaj Kumar’s (Director of Photography) brave cinematic choices takes the core idea of Theseus’ paradox to a whole new level. Three different looks and specific choice of camera movements for each story adds a new dimension to the characters. Technically this is a perfect film.

I look forward to a second viewing of the film as it opens to public. We’ve always been cynical about audiences rejecting new kind of films. The evolution of Indian cinema is in its prime, it’s not the audience that needs to carry this forward, it’s us, the filmmaking community that shouldn’t shy away from taking such risks.

Ship Of Theseus2

Kyunki Gandhi Bhi Kabhi Soaps Likhta Tha

– by Sumit Purohit

It was a rainy morning of July 2011. The Enlighten Film Society’s Naya Cinema Festival was going to screen Aaranya Kaandam as the closing film. I had heard lot about it, so I went despite the rain and the morning. I had no idea then that I will get introduced to another very special film there. It was announced that post the film screening the excerpts from three upcoming films will be played. I decided to stay back. One of these three films was SHIP OF THESEUS. That was the first time I heard about it. Anand Gandhi was present there with his team. He spoke briefly about the film.  But the few minutes of visuals that were played on screen were enough to tell everyone in the theatre that they were witnessing something exceptional. It probably was a film that will change Indian Independent cinema forever.

Almost a year later, Ship of Theseus was screened at Mumbai International Film Festival and it went beyond all expectations. It was not only the best Independent film to come out of India; it was a film which could compete with the finest from around the world. It was a master class in filmmaking. It was technically superior to most Indian films and it explored the stories significant to our times.

To realise that Anand Gandhi is a genius you need not watch his films. You just need to listen him talk for five minutes. He can talk about most things under the sky with great expertise. It seems he is less of a filmmaker and more of a cross between a mad scientist and a philosopher. No wonder he calls his production house a lab and writes research papers too. May be he is the monk from his film, or may be he is the young man who keeps arguing with the monk. Actually, he could be both of them at the same time.

Ship Of Theseus in a way is reflection of what Anand has experienced and learnt over the years. Though what’s wonderful about the film is that it communicates all those ideas and beliefs simplistically yet beautifully when it could have easily become pretentious, preachy or gone all abstract. Ship of Theseus is not what we usually associate with Indie films that have been to film festivals. It’s entertaining, at times humorous and very accessible. It respects its audience, and is intelligent.

The three stories in the film are all set in present Bombay and yet they look like they could be worlds separated by time and space. It’s interesting to notice how Anand uses certain elements in his film. The 1st story is about a blind photographer. Some of the gadgets she uses are straight from science fiction as if the story was taking place in the near future. At the same time the background song with Prakrit lyrics in the 2nd story makes the soundscape feel ancient. It’s a story about a monk who is fighting a court case to ban animal testing in India. He seems to connect with the most unlikely person, a young lawyer who sports long curly hairs and shares Internet jokes with him. In the 3rd story a young stockbroker’s obsession forces him to travel to Stockholm, a place away from his comfort zone. This coming together of contrasting elements makes Ship Of Theseus such an intriguing cinema.

Recently I read that the three films Anand suggested that everyone should watch are – Du Levande (You, the Living), The Turin Horse and Underground. If you look closely, you might find that these films could have influenced Ship Of Theseus conceptually and technically (Gábor ifj. Erdélyi, the sound designer of SOT has also worked on The Turin Horse). SoT has lot of non-actors in the cast, similar to what Roy Andersson prefers. Then there is a scene in the film where a fat man gets stuck in a narrow alley. One can easily imagine it to be a scene from an Emir Kusturica film.

SoT is a great example of how a filmmaker uses his experiences – things he has seen, stories he has heard, films he has watched, books he has read, and gels them together into something new. And at times referring back to them amusingly in the film.  This is a good reason why Ship Of Theseus can be seen again – to search for such references, to find those connections and see how they have changed in this process. Isn’t it similar to the Ship of Theseus paradox?

You will not hear or read any negative criticism of Ship of Theseus, so let me try it (for the sake of an argument and for fun). Strictly speaking it’s not a feature film. I will consider it an anthology of three short films that are thematically connected. The three films are visually and stylistically distinctive.  It’s deliberate but then you can’t overlook the clear dissimilarity between the writing, the way actors approach their roles, the language used and the impact it creates.  But then, for a debut filmmaker this really is not a negative thing. It only shows how talented Anand and his team are and how capable they are at creating these different worlds. It would be really interesting to see what Anand does when he decides to make a feature length film that follows one storyline. What narrative techniques he will use? What cinematic style he will adapt? He is an exciting filmmaker to follow. The best way to start stalking him is by watching Ship Of Theseus.

(PS – If you still need more reason to watch the film and you are a TV soap fan, then you should know that at once upon a time Anand used to write Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar ki. Now, that should excite some of you.)

– And if these four writers have not been able to convince you so far, click here to read what Dibakar Banerjee has to say about it. Not everyone has the guts to say such good things about someone else’s film.

Anand Gandhi’s much accalimed film Ship Of Theseus is going to release this friday. Thanks to Kiran Rao and UTV, the film is getting much deserved space in mainstream media. If you have read about Gandhi’s short films in those interviews and still haven’t seen them, we are embedding two of his shorts here. The video quality is not great but do watch both the shorts.

Right Here Right Now (2003)

29 Minutes. 12 Locations. 19 Characters. 8 Languages. 2 Shots. 1 Cut.

Continuum (2006)

– written and directed by Khushboo Ranka & Anand Gandhi.





continuumSynopsis – This film narrates simple enjoyable stories from everyday life that explore the continuum of life and death, of love and paranoia, of trade and value, of need and invention, of hunger and enlightenment. The five moments of its childlike innocence branch out into a more intricate gamut of an urban scape, culminating into a space where the stories no longer exist as singular threads in their own vacuum but come across and play with each other to form a larger fabric of life.

– You can also check out the filmmaker’s blog here and his DeviantArt page here to see some of his interesting work.

– Click here to check out the Flickr page of Pankaj Kaumar, the DoP of Ship Of Theseus.

Ship Of Theseus

With UTV and Kiran Rao in the picture, Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus is getting some much deserved attention. The film is scheduled to release on 19th July in Mumbai, NCR, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Pune. To get the film released in other parts of the country, one  can now VOTE for it. This kind of “Demand the film in your city” initiative is quite common in US and they have been able to release many films through it. Good to see the idea being tried here.

So if you are not from Mumbai, NCR, Kolkata, Bengaluru or Pune, this what you need to do watch SoT in your city – To submit a vote one needs to visit the ‘Ship Of Theseus’ Facebook page with or without logging in. And then go to ‘Vote For Your City’ tab and cast your vote. Cities that hit the 100% mark will see a guaranteed release.

The options include, but are not restricted to, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Aurangabad, Baroda, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kochi, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Raipur, Rajkot and Surat. To choose any other Indian city, click on the ‘Others’ option and type out the name of your preferred location. Click ‘Submit’ to finalise your vote.

Click here to VOTE and DEMAND Ship Of Theseus in your city.

There’s only one reason why you should vote and demand the film – It’s easily one of the best films of the year. And you need to see it on big screen. Don’t get scared by it’s title if it seems pretentious to you. The film is accessible to anyone.

– To watch its trailer, and to read the synopsis, click here.

– Our recco post on the film is here, here and here.