It took me a while to write down this review mainly because this is the kind of film that requires you to introspect after you've seen it. Anand Gandhi's Ship of Theseus is the story of three different protagonists whose struggles will make you question what would you do if you were in their places?
We are first introduced to Aaliya (Aida Elkashef), a young Egyptian photographer who just happens to be blind. She shoots images based on sound and instinct; the results are these wonderful slices of life that would be vastly different if a sighted photographer were to take them. Aaliya turns her photographs in highly contrasted vectorized images that she can feel by hand. While in Mumbai, she undergoes an eye transplant that allows her to see again. At first, she is overjoyed. She can see her family, her boyfriend, her art and so much more. But how will her photography be affected now that she can see?
The second story focuses on a monk Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi) who is pursuing a legal case against animal testing in India, something he believes very strongly in. However, when he himself is diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and has to resort to taking medication that might very well be tested on animals. This section of the film has some stunning visuals but also some very difficult scenes to watch as Maitreya struggles with his decision.
And finally, the final story is the film is about a stockbroker Navin (Sohum Shah) who just undergone a kidney transplant. When Navin comes across a poor man who has his kidney stolen through an appendix operation, he goes to many lengths to make sure he gets justice. The film asks us through the characters about our beliefs and social conscience (if we do have one).
The film opens with the story of the actual ship of Theseus. If piece by piece, all the parts of a ship are replaced, is it still the same ship? Or has it been irrevocably changed forever? You will be thinking of this film and its characters long after you leave the theater. This movie has stayed with me still. Ship of Theseus is the best Indian film I have seen this year and it makes me so glad to think that films like this can exist. Indian films are not just about Bollywood only. We have so many stories to tell. I can't wait to see what story Anand Gandhi will tell us next.
Written and Directed by Anand Gandhi; Written by Anand Gandhi, Pankaj Kumar, Khusboo Ranka; Cinematography by Pankaj Kumar; Edited by Adesh Prasad, Sanyukta Kaza, Satchit Puranik; Music by Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor