There are some movies that compel us to think, while there are others which makes us emotionally involved and attached. Ship of Theseus does both – in the most effortless and poignant manner possible. Anand Gandhi presents us with the most appealing blend of artistic cinematography, intelligent dialogues, captivating music and gripping stories. For me, watching the movie was an emotional as well as intellectual experience.
Having won international acclaim, the movie is a fine testament of intelligent Indian cinema. The most incredible aspect of the film is the sheer ease with which the characters are built and the stories told. Simple, direct and moving! The film’s title and theme draws its premise from the ancient Greek paradox that asks if every part of a ship is changed over time, whether the ship would remain the same? And if the replaced parts are used to make a new ship, will that be the original ship?
The movie talks of profound philosophies, of life and death, of ideologies and beliefs. But never does the movie try to preach or be sanctimonious. The film follows the lives of three very different people. As blind photographer, who struggles with her photography and art after gaining her eyesight back, Aida Elkashef is so convincing in her character that one can feel her restlessness. We feel for her, empathise with her but not once do we feel sorry for her and that’s the victory of her character.
The second story revolves around a monk suffering from liver cirrhosis who is fighting for animal rights. Neeraj Kabi plays this role so deftly that he evokes thoughts and questions of morality in our minds while we watch him deny taking medication because of his ideologies and beliefs. His deteriorating condition doesn’t come in way of his will power and he stands by his convictions even when his ailing body is giving up. The thought-provoking conversations with his young protégé are very entertaining and amusing. The simplicity of his ideas makes us wonder. The monk is assertive yet he never preaches his ideas. The sect he belongs to is a fictitious one (created for the film so as to avoid any kind of political or religious issues) and it is intrinsically designed to appeal to our reason than to sentiment.
The third story is of a money minded stockbroker who believes being motivated to earn money doesn’t make one a lesser mortal. All one needs in life is respect and a little compassion for people around. His unusual journey to a foreign land just to get justice for a fellow human being makes us discover a hero in the common man. He isn’t successful in his motives but he tries his best. That’s the whole point of a life, as his activist and driven grand mom tells him, “This is as good as it gets.” The stockbroker’s character is a complex in a very endearing way. His idea of living is simple and he has no high morals or a sense of duty towards society, unlike his grandmother. However, he does have the moral fabric of a compassionate human being which makes us bow down to him.
All these characters are so real that they seem surreal, filling us with a sense of respect and love for them. They are all cleverly united in the end, with a climax that we never see coming as we’re too engrossed in the narrative. But when we ponder, it was quite an obvious and perfect ending with all these three lives intertwined. Taking all of us along in a voyage, the director explores the ideas of identity, justice, morals, life and death. Ship of Theseus certainly strikes a chord in our heart with its beautiful imagery. A film that stirs the soul and incites us to reflect upon our lives. A film not to be missed!