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October 22, 2021

A Carousel of Visual Wanderings

Anand Ghandhi chooses the political correct path, speaking of vegan philosophy and philanthropy. It does it pointing towards contradictions, yet always against the backdrop of this technological novelty.

The first story is promising. A blind woman is roaming the streets of Mumbai, taking mundane snapshots with a sound-and-color-adjusted camera (despite the black and white option). The artist’s critical viewpoint is a bit more complicated, as she associates the kind eyes of her lover with her own imaginings based on his accounts. The shots are slightly staged sometimes, but even so, the blind photographer’s condition renders them fresh. This causal character however made to run the gauntlet of an imagination refracted by an imaginary detached from routine correlation (with reality) allowed to an eye able to see. In order to keep an independent assessment, she reneges on a portion of her results, according to unavoidable random criteria, engaging in a polemic with the tastes of the lover that seconds her in her challenging artistic process. At the opposite end of visual hyper-acuity (specific to the contemporary world, invaded by children of a reality with the pretense of the most wholesome conformity possible), the snapshots taken by the blind woman somewhat rediscover the mystery of a discovery. Camera is shaky at times and the film photography, credited to Pankaj Kumar, also a laureate of this year’s festival, is expressively alternates the shallowness and jerky dynamics of night lights and half-light of the day. The blind woman regains her sights (after surgery), yet, the outcomes on her art are disastrous. She goes – a seemingly reasonable option – into a junction to caught passersby on camera, yet the result is trivial. Even if in a hurry, those thus portrayed feel they are taken shots of and pose in a complicity that definitely leaves the photographs devoid of expressivity. The blind woman didn’t look at them – she was unable to do – which spared them the effort to add, even if a discreet, mask, nor were they approached in too invasive a visual way. Viewers can even expect, for the even ontological, post-surgery mutation to become an opportunity for raising a question about art, the stakes of the, serious, play with artist’s reality – that re-composing that sets out to accomplish more than just mimic reality. Yet it is transplant, which on a basic level envisages the identity issue (dealt with not once in literature film), yet shifting to moral dilemmas in the other stories, which is the theme that links the three stories in Theseus’. In doing this, Anand Ghandhi chooses the political correct path, speaking of vegan philosophy and philanthropy. It does it pointing (rather shallowly) towards contradictions, yet always against the backdrop of this technological (and even anthropological) novelty. The film’s structure calls to mind Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel – three independent stories tied by a minimal link. In this case, the weaving is purely conventional – three people benefiting from organ transplants from the same human source. Three people whose apparently similar view on a memory from the dead one – some video images in a cave – is the only thing they share. It must be a sending to the platonic myth of juxtaposed realities, very much like a mirror game. Yet, the last two stories are rather the pretext (less convincing nonetheless) for the visual discovery of the world to carry on: urban shots depicting human agglomerations, the forceful disharmonies of some apparently random proximity (a barefooted monk walking on a busy highway), the expressivity of a (silent) man-defying nature. To have to use medicines resulted from (cruel0 tests on animals is a moral issue, mainly oriental cultures (dominated by the philosophy of reincarnation), which makes the hierarchy of living beings relative, yet, the film’s perspective on the issue is naïve more than anything else, as if it were to choose a contemporary example to illustrate the existential dilemmas of a faith. Was it though necessary for the character himself to be on the brink of death to think of the fate of his sick or moribund fellow human beings? The third story, which is the most farfetched, introduces us to the economic perspective. Even if your kidney has been stolen from you, poverty makes you prefer the money to reparatory justice. However, this is yet another occasion to show the profound disparities – a narrow labyrinth in an Indian slum vs. a remote villa in a Scandinavian landscape. In the former, streets are so narrow that only the dirt-poor skinnies can walk them, while cars, or even fat bellied guys – a sign of being rich – can’t. Those uninspired routes, mostly screenplay and plot-wise, aside, Anand Ghandi’s film is a promising debut nonetheless.

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