Before writing this review, allow me to explain the meaning of Ship of Theseus. Ship of Theseus is a very popular paradox. A paradox is something like a “Chicken or Egg” kind of situation or a statement which is self-contradictory. So let’s assume the following –
“We have a ship and for some reasons, we decide to change some parts of the ship. We change the parts and it’s still the same ship, right? OK, bear with me. Now after some time some other parts were changed. But I guess that doesn’t matter because it’s still the same Ship. Now, we do this again and again and the time will come when the Ship will have none of its original parts. They will all be replaced by the new parts. So, will it still be the same ship?
It’s still not a paradox. Let’s give you some food for thought. We assemble all the “old parts” together and make a new ship with those parts. Now, which one is the original ship among the two? The old one whose parts were replaced by the new parts or the new one which was made with those old parts?”
This is a paradox and we call it the Ship of Theseus Paradox. Well, The film is symbolic and artistic so not everyone will find the connection between these things. In fact not everyone will enjoy this film. It might be dry for someone’s taste because they won’t get item songs, comedy, cheesy dialogues and gravity defying action scenes. So go through the review once, if you don’t like serious art house films. This movie is very different from the other Indian films that I have ever seen. It is not for everyone because not everyone enjoys serious cinema or artistic films. This film challenges the viewer’s mind by giving them some food for thought.
It is the best Indian Indie-film (Along with The Lunchbox) I have ever seen and one of the few Indian films that can compete with foreign films when it comes to artistic and aesthetic values.
Ship of Theseus Plot Overview and Review
Ship of Theseus tells us three different stories about different people. The first story is about a blind experimental photographer who craves to capture beautiful images, the second story is about an ailing monk who is fighting a case and the last story is about a stockbroker who tries to help a poor guy. In all the three stories, the central character is in a quandary and seeks answers to his questions. The film deals with the questions of Identity, Justice, Morals, Life and death with the help of these three stories which seem disjointed.
Ship of Theseus is a story about three different persons. The first story is about a blind girl who uses her hearing and imagination to click photographs. But then she gets an eye-transplant and everything changes. She can not use her hearing and imagination anymore because her eyes keep distracting her. She is not the same person she used to be or is she? If your body parts are replaced, are you still the same person?
The second story is about a monk who is an animal rights activist and is fighting the case against animal cruelty and torture in medical laboratories. Once he gets ill and refuses to take medicines at first because they were made by the same medical labs that torture animals. He gets stuck in a moral dilemma and in the end he decides to take the medication. It is clear that he changed his rules and morals. He also gets an organ transplant. So, is he still the same person?
The third story is about a stock-broker who is interested in money only. He gets a kidney transplant and finds out that his kidney might have been stolen from a poor guy. he feels guilty and tries to help the person. In this process, he comes to know that his kidney was not a stolen one. So he tries to find the person who is having the poor guy’s kidney. He is hell bent on fighting for the justice for the poor person. In the end, we see a changed stock-broker who is not all about the money. So is he the same guy?
These questions are asked again and again and that is why Ship of Theseus is brilliant. In the end, we see all the protagonists sitting together and enjoying a movie about the person whose organs were donated to them. That person happens to be a cave explorer. So these three protagonists are having the organs which were harvested from the same person. The first one is having his eyes, the second one is having a different organ and the third one is having his kidney. There were more people sitting with them so almost all of his organs were donated to different people. Now, recall the Ship of Theseus paradox and you will find something interesting. This is a spellbinding climax which stays with you for a very long time.
Technical Analysis and Review
Ship of Theseus shows that we have the potential to make great films. Anand Sharma deserves a standing ovation for this film. The way he captures everything is mesmerizing. It gave me the similar feeling that Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life did. You can not really complain about anything because you will not find a fault with this film. The cinematography is beautiful and one of the best I have seen in Indian films albeit they didn’t use any expensive camera. Camera techniques used by the DOP are brilliant. Kudos to Pankaj Kumar for scoring a perfect 10 here. The guy surely does know his work.
The direction is flawless, The screenplay is engrossing and all the actors do a great job, specially Neeraj Kabi as the ailing monk. However the story is the soul of this film which makes it spectacular. It explores the Ship of Theseus Paradox artistically (It is not a completely accurate depiction but serves the message anyway).
Whats riveting about Ship of Theseus is that seldom do you see Indian films speaking the language of pure cinema (atleast nowadays) instead of narrating and spoon feeding everything to the audience. Ship of Theseus does that without any hurdles. The director does not spoonfeed you everything. He shows you the imagery and wants you to know what is going on inside the heads of those characters with the help of their expressions.
Every crew member deserves applause for making such a great film. They made a film which is much more thought-provoking and meaningful than what Bollywood has put forward in last 20 years or so and they did this with the help of a DLSR camera? and a debutant director did this? Anand Sharma has a bright future ahead of him. In the end, I would like to say that movies like The Lunchbox, Ankhon Dekhi and Ship of Theseus have rebuilt my hope for Indian cinema. I hope they keep making such films.