Thursday, April 09, 2009


Nandita Das directorial debut is a huge surprise as definitively shows not only her excellent storytelling abilities but also her directorial artistry, as the film definitively looks and feels like the work of an accomplished director and a very sensible screenplay writer (she co wrote it) especially when you think that the film is telling about the aftermath of terrible atrocities and does it with the most unexpected simplicity, yet full of emotional impact, is just literally outstanding.

Perhaps is not an easy movie to watch, but with the exception of the opening scenes there is nothing physically violent in this 24 hours visit to Gurajat in 2002, a month after the terrible riots between Hindu and Muslim communities that left thousands of dead people, mainly Muslims. The vehicle chosen to tell about the atrocities and the consequences in general ordinary people is a series of not-related stories about Hindu and Muslim individuals that conform an intense to watch mosaic of human behavior.

Some were victims, some silent observers and other perpetrators. You have Mohsin a young orphan child searching for his father; an elderly Muslim classical vocalist living unaware of the events thanks to his loyal servant until he watches TV; a middle-aged Hindu woman haunted by the sight of Muslim women begging for sanctuary in their house that she ignored and her husband hiding his brother that participated in a grand rape; a Muslim couple that returns home after fleeing only to find their house burnt and to suspect is the act of the friendly neighbors; a group of Muslim men that want to hide their helplessness by searching a gun in order to extract revenge; and an affluent mixed couple whose store was burnt during the riots and want to escape their fears by moving to Delhi. All represent lives from different walks of life that were altered forever, but also show a great range from white to black -and the many grays in-between - tones of human actions and reactions. Very interesting and awfully compelling even when definitively some stories are not emotionally easy to absorb.

The movie has been collecting well-deserved honors in fests around the world since was premeried at the 2008 Toronto Fest, including winning the Swarovski Trophy for Best Film and Best Screenplay and the Foreign Correspondents Association Award at the 2008 Asian First Film Festival and Nandita Das winning the Everyday Life: Transcendence or Reconcialiation Award at the 2008 Thessaloniki fest.

I know that the film is not for all audiences as the narrative may seem with too many stories for many, but I hope that many could overcome their dislike of not “normal” narratives and give this movie a try as definitively is one that I strongly recommend for the story that tells and as a great debut of a woman director that already has renown standing as a great actress. A must be seen for those that enjoy serious cinema.


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