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Ship Of Theseus review: Of love, life and philosophy!

Ship of Theseus
Anand Gandhi
Aida El-Kashef, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah
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It touches your soul, this film. Might even give you goose-bumps, as it almost did this writer.

Three stories are intertwined with each other in ways we tend not to expect.

The first is about a blind photographer who roams the streets with a camera in hand and a walking stick in the other. Aliya (Aida El-Kashef) seems to intuitively sense the perfect moments and captures them with expertise.

You wonder how, and somehow you understand it as well. After all, we all depend on intuition more than we know.

Never shying away from sticky situations - she'll go to the scene of a road fight, enter random homes, point the camera at a stranger's face - her photographs are exhilarating and audacious. Also very different from those clicked by 'seeing' people.

And then one day she gets a sudden call telling her they've found an eye donor. Life changes in unexpected ways, making the viewer as perplexed as the character.

There's philosophy in every story, even if it doesn't make itself obvious. Like the time when Aliya philosophises about the art of photography, wondering if there is indeed any talent needed between the perfect moment and clicking a picture.

What an uncomfortable thought for an artist who may wonder if they have anything to do with that exquisite photograph in the first place.

Co-writer and director Anand Gandhi teases the audience by flowing into the next story without warning. Naturally, this style is a testament to the film's philosophy in itself.

The second story is about a monk fighting a court case against animal testing by medicine companies. In a heart-wrenching scene, that will have you looking for a 'not tested on animals' sign on every product you buy, you see an animal tested brutally for something as frivolous as shampoo.

Perhaps you see the ambience of a High Court portrayed authentically in a film for the first time. A young chap is enamoured by the monk, while also disagreeing with and arguing against some of his philosophies. Their debates (the monk talks of karmic record on the soul, while the young chap wonders if karma is 'cosmic revenge') are great fun.

But then the monk is faced with an ideological and moral dilemma. It's such a difficult problem, even the viewer wouldn't know whose side to take. Neeraj Kabi's masterful performance, also very physically demanding, is to be savoured.

The third story unfolds in the hospital (making you wonder if you're still watching the earlier one). Navin (Sohum Shah)'s grandmother is in the hospital. An activist and art-lover, she looks down upon Navin's focus towards just money-making.

But this young stockbroker surprises himself and his grandmother when he decides to pursue the case of a stolen kidney.

Gandhi gives us symbols to look and absorb. The tumultuous waves of the sea, a road with no visible end, the centipede, the beginning of the film that explains the Theseus Paradox, and of course the cave (aptly appearing towards the end).

With excellent acting, stories tinged with moral dilemmas and varying philosophies, innovative cinematography by Pankaj Kumar and Gandhi's sure-footed direction, Ship Of Theseus is a must-watch.

Give this film your patience, your attention, and you will be richly rewarded. Don't miss. You want to watch this one!

Rating: 4 stars


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