Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ship of Theseus - A review

Ship of Theseus...

I had wanted to write many things about this movie in the initial two days after watching it. But now, when I finally got the time and setting to do it, I am trying to find what those thoughts were.

So here goes..

This movie has a lot to offer being of a different breed. It differs by miles from the mainstream movies anyway, and even from the parallel movies it differs in very subtle manners.

Outright, if you ask me if its an art movie, I would say yes and No. It does have the usual technicalities and stretching phenomenon common with all art movies. But then the packaging seems to have been done a bit differently to make it appear on the left side of the scroll bar of art films. The promotions and advertisements too have been done via social media, thereby taking away a portion of the anonymity that art movies usually get released under.

A proper promotion ensured that huge crowds of intellectuals,pseudo-intellectuals,art movie lovers, general movie lovers and general population also turned out to see what this movie is all about. The cities where the movie was to be released were selected based on social media voting on various platforms like Twitter and Facebook. A bonus for social media in generating the right image of the audience and their expectations.

140 minutes long, this movie seems quite long and unprocessed at parts, whereas many parts takes your breath away. Anyway, as with any movie which involves concepts and symbolization, the interpretation and level of enjoyment varies from person to person.

I would like to touch upon the general topic of the movie without giving any spoiler alert. Most of these you would get to know anyway from the trailers, so I believe I am not doing any injustice to the makers of the movie.

The movies is a stitch-up of three stories;stories of three different people in three different situations going through some life changing moments of their lives. The philosophical question underlying the movie is shared to the audience in the  beginning, probably to set them thinking on the same lines as the makers of the movie. There is no principle or concept, just a logical question which can be applied to anything in life and metamorphosed into various dimensions according to your intellectual interests.

The first story is of a girl who is blind from childhood who takes up photography after she loses sight. It is a mind blowing concept, watching her use voice recognition in her camera and photo editing tools to create amazing works of art. She is portrayed as being a famous photographer with her own exhibits, but is not at peace with the world. Her husband, who helps her by giving comments and reviews of her photos gets into constant arguments stemmed out of her frustration at something. Its a pleasure watching her figure out subjects around her just by using sound and clicking very profound images. Then we are told that she is getting her eyes operated and new implants from some donor are fit. She is dying with anxiety to see the works of her which she hated, but was appreciated by all. Like a child, she goes through all the works she has done from her childhood, breaking into tears realizing the enormity of the work she has done unwares. Soon she is on the same streets trying to recapture the same feelings and images, this time with eyes. But after many attempts, she realizes that something is missing and this breaks her down completely.
 She travels to get motivation for her work and the story ends when she finally comes to peace with the hard truth. That truth is something that I was personally able to relate to and I felt completely satisfied at her discovery.

The story moves onto Maitreya, a Jain monk who fights against cruelty to animals in various labs. He takes upon major cosmetic companies and is a champion of simple life. One fine day he is diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and it moves to an advanced stage soon. Doctors advice him to take medicines, but having seen the kind of animal testing done behind the medicines prescribed to him, he rejects medication and chooses to embrace death instead. The story slowly moves across various frames of his wandering, his followers, his daily life and so on. But the most engaging and interesting parts are his intellectual debates with a friend, even in his death bed. These exchanges cover all the philosophical reasoning and motivations that drive Maitreya while making the audience chuckle and laugh at the humorous puns and jibes. It keeps the movie away from the intellectual and philosophical boredom that affects such scenarios. The end of this story was questionable and left us in wonder and it took hours after the movie to be put aside.

The last story is more non exotic in nature. Its about a Marwadi stock broker who is shown as getting his kidney transplanted  He is shown as someone tied to his work, carrying his PC(mind it, not even a laptop) even to the hospital room to continue his work. His grandmother is a social activist who constantly prods him for his hunger to make money and lack of interest in being more humane. In the hospital premises he witnesses the plight of a poor family that discovers that the kidney of its sole bread earner has been stolen by some doctors in a previous surgery. Already hurt by the remarks of his grandmother, this sparks something in him to set out on a journey to track down the source of this theft and try to get the rightful owner his kidney back. His pursuit takes him to the nefarious underbelly of the medical mafia, crowded slums and even goes international to track down the massive mafia. He also has a stocky friend who keeps the humour flowing, keeping the audience's interest very much up. With some interesting moments of realizations and setbacks, his story is about the spark that  normal people get and how he reacted to it. An activist is born in him that day.

Overall the movie charms and makes up for some of its boring sequences,shots and dialogues when you consider the plot, the concept and the use of good humour to maintain the flow. The end has the answer to many questions, but raises far more questions for the audience to ruminate upon.  The other highlights of this movie is the attention given to the sounds, the depth of dialogues and the wonderful camera work. But in these days of amazing cinematography in mainstream movies, there is nothing remarkable in that department.

 I rate this movie 8.3/10. Go and watch it, you lovers of good quality movie. Let this spur on many such efforts.. Kudos to Anand Gandhi, Neeraj Kabi and Kiran Rao, among others..

Read the wiki link about the making of the movie
(all image copyrights are with their rightful owners, and images obtained from google images)


  1. Having been one of the very few people in the entire country who has seen the film, I am not surprised to see a lack of interaction and blogs regarding the film as compared to other mainstream films, including Madras Cafe which has released today.

    After seeing the film last Monday, I was actually left thoughtless. Completely. This was indeed unlike any other film I have seen and surely not one that majority of the people would like to see.

    Grt review. Nicely described :)

    You might also want to read my experience of seeing the film here;

  2. I completely agree with your point Antarik. Thanks for connecting and sharing your perspectives too :-)