“A frog once asked a centipede how is it able to walk on a hundred feet so gracefully synchronised while the frog finds it difficult to manage even two. The centipede took a moment to analyse his own walk and was baffled. As it tried to walk further its feet got entangled and it tripped.”
Anand Gandhi’s 2012 film is a peculiar watch in all senses. I saw this movie a few months back, and re-watched it for writing this review. The film is open to the viewer’s interpretations. Moreover, there is a chance that the understanding of the film might even change when viewed s second time.
Coming from the intellect of Gandhi, this movie is very different from your regular Bollywood films. Inspired by the Theseus Paradox, the film tells three stories, one after the other. It gives you three indeterministic narratives that converge beautifully into what may appear to be a deterministic view. “Three Roads converged in a philosophical quest, which one would you choose, the movie tries to ask”.
So, let me put forth a review in the form of a questionnaire, the questions the film left me with.
The first tale is of a photographer Aliya (Aida El Kashef) who is left blind by a cornea infection. It’s a beautiful depiction of how she manages to capture the scents of her surroundings based on her intuition. After her cornea implant she’s stuck with the dilemma, “Why is it amazing to have no limits or doubts?” Every dialogue pierces through the consciousness and makes you question yourself. Towards the end, it leaves you with another question – Do you capture or do you click the perfect moment?
The second piece revolves around the constant struggle of how one perceives life through two entirely different points of view, thereby highlighting the plurality and the phrase – We’re all blind men trying to perceive the elephant.This struggle is portrayed by the Jain Monk Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi) and the young lawyer Charvaka (Vinay Shukla). Maitreya’s belief in karmic causality is severely challenged when he’s diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. The monk who spent his life fighting a court case against animal testing by pharmaceutical companies has no other option but to take medicines and go through a liver transplant. The question thus arising it this, “Is it worth giving your life for something that’s nothing more than a thought experiment?” Towards the end, the story exposes the human misconception of everything being under their control. It ends with some very wise lines, “It’s so oppressive, the obsession we have with the final answers. We invent God, soul, heaven, afterlife even life imitating technology of all sorts of transcendence to cope with the idea of an absolute end. And then we die for an idea which provides some sort of immortality.”
The third narrative follows a practical man Navin (Sohum Shah), who is hardly invested in his work and barely cares about the people around him. Over the course of the events, we watch him go on his own quest for justice, justice for a poor man whose kidney has been stolen. He finds the rare moment of his life, where he stands still to feel and understand the deeper meaning of his actions.
The movie closes with the interior of a cave, inspired by Plato’s Allegory of The Cave, from best-known work, The Republic. In the allegory, Plato likens people to prisoners chained in a cave, watching shadows and believing them to be real. The man seen in the cave in the video seems transfixed to the wall and his own shadow cast upon it. He doesn’t make his way out. The lives of three entirely different people come together and the paradox comes to life; As the planks of Theseus’ ship needed repair, it was replaced part by part, up to a point where not a single part from the original ship remained in it, anymore. Is it, then, still the same ship? If all the discarded parts were used to build another ship, which of the two, if either, is the real Ship of Theseus?
BA Program, 2nd year