Koimoi Recommends Ship Of Theseus: purpose, existence and identity are things that the human race has been looking for throughout the evolution. Anand Gandhi, in his 2012 directorial debut Ship Of Theseus, took inspiration from the Theseus paradox and made us question our place and importance in this gigantic universe. If you don’t know what the Theseus paradox is, I would want you to read a bit about it. Today on Koimoi Recommends, I suggest you to watch Gandhi’s slow-burning movie that deserves much more than it actually garnered. (This movie has innumerable perspectives and interpretations. Below is mine, and the difference in opinion is bound to happen)
Director: Anand Gandhi
Language: English (majorly)
Available On: YouTube
Let me begin with thanking Kunal Kamra for introducing the world and making Anand Gandhi’s film(s) available for everyone on his channel. The Theseus’ ship was repaired plank-by-plank till a point that not a single part from the original remained in the restored model. Now the question is/was, if the removed parts are assembled into a new ship, which one of the two will be the original Ship Of Theseus?
Anand Gandhi takes this story by Greek philosopher Plutarch and gives it a contemporary set up. We meet three people, all on the verge of getting organ donations. Through them Gandhi explores facets of the human race and what it comprises of. Do our bodies really belong to us? Is all the pride we take in our appearance even valid? Or are we just machines assembled, reassembled and repaired at intervals?
Heads up, we meet Aliya (filmmaker Aida El Kashef), a foreign migrant who chooses to become a photographer after she loses her eyesight to a cornea infection. Here Gandhi in a subtle way hints at the importance of art and how it fills voids. Aliya creates embossed versions of her picture she could touch and feel. After she gets her sight back we see her not enjoying the art. The climax in itself is a metaphor to how photography was just a temporary void filler and the permanent being her eyesight. One part added, the other subtracts.
Second and the most poignant in Ship Of Theseus is a monk Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi) who is fighting against animal cruelty and advocates a peaceful life for every living being. When a liver ailment demands a transplant, he is standing on a cliff challenging his own ethics. Kabi who gives the best performance amid everyone is a treat. Here is a man fasting to death but not accepting a transplant. The catch here is technically both solutions happen to be against Maitreya. Him slowly killing himself is cruelty against his own life and accepting a transplant against other. At this point, it isn’t about right or wrong, it is about choosing what benefits the most. Gandhi emphasises purpose here.
Next in line in Ship Of Theseus is Navin (Sohum Shah) a man who has gone through a fresh kidney transplant. While he finds solace in earning money and a lot of it, his granny wants him to live life for happiness and look at the larger scheme of things. He finds an aim and does run behind it, just to be disheartened. It is not about reaching the endpoint here, but finding the reason of existence in the loops. Gandhi is a master at portraying this.
The three, Aliya, Maitreya and Navin become three blocks of a jigsaw puzzle, but where’s the box where you keep them? Watch Ship Of Theseus to find that. Anand Gandhi’s film definitely deserved more. Yes, it did get a National award but the viewership till date remains minimum. Cinematographer Pankaj Kumar is the god of wide shots and his camera continues to capture its own story throughout. While editing could have been crisper, amazing actors fill up that void.
Watch Ship Of Theseus to understand how existence can be seen through various perspectives. There are metaphors and a lot of them, dialogues that mean way more than their simple meaning and actors who mouth them with a spark to find answers. Enjoy this life-changing experience.
Watch Ship Of Theseus here: