The Ship of Theseus – Movie Review

22 Jul

The Ship of Theseus, a film produced by Kiran Rao, was one of the least publicized of the various films that released this weekend. However, it’s a film that has got tremendous critical acclaim and hence, we set out to see what it was all about.

The film opens with a short poem on the Ship of Thesues. It basically sets out asking 2 questions – one, if the parts of a ship have been completely replaced with new parts, would the ship continue to have the essence of the original ship and two, if a new ship is built with the parts of the old ship, would it be considered to be the same as the old ship? And the film basically aims to throw light at these 2 questions. This film consists of a combination of 3 different stories and people. The first is about a photographer called Alia, who is blind on account of a cornea infection and yet, is an acclaimed photographer. She uses the power of technology along with intuition and imagination to take photographs. She soon undergoes a transplant and her vision is restored. However, subsequently she finds herself unable to acclimatize to her new found vision and as a result, her photography suffers. The second story is based on a Buddhist monk, Maitreya who is part of a movement to ban animal testing in cosmetic and medical procedures. He is diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and is advised to take a dosage of medicines manufactured by companies who have not signed the petition against animal testing. He is faced with a dilemma of ending his life fighting for this cause or succumbing into taking the medication. And the third and final story is based on Naveen, who has just had his kidney transplanted. During the course of his treatment, he comes across a case of stealing of kidneys from the poor and decides to fight for the rights of the poor. This fight takes him to Stockholm where he goes to meet a man who is the recipient of a kidney stolen from a poor man in India. In all the three stories, the journeys of the 3 protagonists along with their struggles and values, is what forms the base of the The Ship of Theseus.

Well, for one this movie boasts of brilliant performances by all concerned. While all stories are thought provoking, the most heart-wrenching one would the one based on the monk, Maitreya who has shelled out an extraordinary performance. The film is extremely intelligent and even humorous at times. Even thought I wished the film was a little shorter, it’s extremely engaging and makes one think about subjects such as non-violence, identity, duality and the sorts, which otherwise we don’t really bother about. The film never gets preachy and doesn’t strive to arrive at any conclusion which is the best part. From a story perspective, the way the 3 stories are weaved together at the end is creativity at its best.

As I said, the film is a little too long and could have been crisper. Another point of caution is that this film is not for everyone and only for those who enjoy serious cinema. Also, considering the length and slow pace of the film, it would require considerable patience to sit through this kind of cinema. But nevertheless, it’s a remarkable effort and comes as a breath of fresh air as compared to some of the nonsense that is fared out today in the name of popular cinema. I would rate it a 3.5 out of 5. Go watch it if you’re in for some self-introspection!


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