Saturday 8 August 2015

Ship of Theseus review


If you have seen the Indian version of Ship of Theseus, you would know that it begins with Kiran Rao 'presenting' it. As per her, she did not get her husband, Mr. Aamir Khan, to present it because then a large number of people would have gone to watch the movie and they would have been 'disappointed' by it. Supposedly, the makers and critics seem to believe that 'Ship of Theseus' is for a select audience because it is symbolic and artistic, one that is intellectual enough to see the ideals of self, identity and paradox that the film offers. But, for most part of it, IT'S A SHAM.

Indian Cinema is today moving towards the shadowy dangers of something that will ultimately bring about its ruin- Pretense. This is a phenomenon whereby upcoming film-makers with some indie cred are coming with projects that aspire to do a lot but turn out to be shallow and devoid of any worthwhile ideas. A peculiar fashion that has accompanied this is how the pseudo modern audiences that have recently flooded Indian metros are taking to such films as a means to show their superiority in taste and knowledge of art. Indian Cinema is going the wrong way. The French new wave was something that resulted out of times and an environment. This incipient wave in Indian Cinema is a game of fooling the audiences and Ship of Theseus is no different.

Ship of Theseus draws on a paradox whether a ship that has been restored by replacing all its parts remains the same ship. Although the film comprises of three stories whereby three unrelated individuals receive new body parts, only one of the stories comes close to the said dilemma. Aaliya (Aida El-Kashef) is a photographer and she is blind. With no intention to hurt the sentiments of the differently-abled, I can say that she lives in a fantasy world and takes photographs through her magic camera. Yet the film shows how she is successful in what she does. The portrayal of 'reality' beats me here. Now, when she gets a cornea transplant and can see the world and her work with her own eyes, she doesn't find it worth it. Thus, the dilemma.

The second story is of Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi), a monk who would not take medicines for liver cirrhosis because he is against animal testing of medicine. The third story is of a stockbroker, Navin (Sohum Shah) who receives a kidney transplant and finds out about the illegal organ trade prevalent in medicine. While the first story is central to the theme, the other two are just unrelated sequels to the same.

There are certain discussions about morality and society in these stories, particularly in the second one but just as in a normal conversation you have in day to day life, they linger around how bad things have become and do not necessarily offer any ideas to change them. Posing problems is easy, it's the resolution that matters. A story that talks about the crisis only and hangs about it for eternity is not why you watch a film. Cynicism may lead critics and the so called mature audiences to believe that but Cinema is about greater things. Ship of Theseus doesn't offer anything concrete to the audiences. It isn't even a worth commentary on reality that it aspires to be as it attempts to take on a Dekalogian narrative.

Having said all this, it would be unfair not to praise the film on grounds for which it's worthy.  Aida El-Kashef and Neeraj Kabi come up with some strong performances backed up by some tremendous cinematography by Pankaj Kumar. Sadly, that's all praise it gets from here.

Bandwidth verdict- The film is as hollow as the hollowness it tries to depict. While pretentious audiences may go gaga over it, those who know the truth should abstain.

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