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Ship of Theseus

Ship of Theseus
Release date: July 19, 2013
Directed by: Anand Gandhi
Cast: Aida El-Kashef, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Amba Sanyal, Faraz Khan, Vinay Shukla, Sameer Khurana, Sunip Sen, Ramnik Parekh

After pondering over what buzzwords to include in my introductory paragraph of this review for quite a long time, I eventually decided to pour out my introspective reflections and cinematic observations without making a comment about the film’s probable long-term effects on anything.

Ship of Theseus is the Greek interrogative paradox of  whether an object which has had all its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object. The film presents three different cases of replacement where organs of the human body stand to get replaced and how does the said decision of getting the replacement moulds their perspective.

Aliyaa (Aida El-Kashef), a blind photographer living in a foreign city is still bothered at not yet being a “complete” photographer even while she’s garnering accolades for her black and white images. She yearns to see the world that she clicks. Her subsequent cornea transplant changes her feelings about the same world.

Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi) is a monk of a fictitious religion with its roots thickly based in the theory of equality and freedom of choice and consent for all species alike. He fights for the cause he believes in, with a young apprentice at a law firm, Charvaka (Vinay Shukla) and his fellow godmen at the monastery, highly dipped in irony and a tongue-in-cheek battle with the ever-prevalent cynicism of the modern world. After a bout of illness, Maitreya faces a dilemma of getting a transplant which strongly contradicts his ideals.

The third protagonist, Navin (Sohum Shah) is a practically capitalistic businessman who gets a kidney transplant and is confronted by his own grandmother’s beliefs and a consequential doubt of his kidney being stolen. He embarks on a personal interrogation of the whole crime racket and tries to provide a solution to one of the victims. The individual screenplays merge at the end to give a befitting conclusion to the film.

Director of Photography and co-writer Pankaj Kumar chases the characters with his camera for long periods of extended dialogue and extremely ordinary activities. The imagery, no matter how visually sombre, is extremely moving. The character backgrounds of each protagonist are entirely based in Mumbai, yet they have a deeply disconnected social and moralistic outlook at life. It is perhaps this disconnection that captivates you through each of the tracks.

The performances of all the actors along with the less focused upon supporting cast are completely organic and terribly realistic. Special props to Neeraj Kabi’s physical transformation for his role’s requirement. The production and sound design carefully alleviate the film to make it a spiritual experience. From Aliya’s irritation and anxiety to Maitreya’s silent self-doubt and Navin’s newfound empathy, everything transcends the barrier of the celluloid screen.

Ship of Theseus may not necessarily be life-altering or even inquisitive  for you, but it surely questions, enlightens and enthralls you how great cinema should. It’s stay in the theaters may be limited, it definitely won’t disappear from your subconscious any soon.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

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