Posts Tagged ‘indian cinema’

The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain (2018)

Dir: Ridham Janve | India, drama | 97′

A mysterious “Sacred Mountain” in the Himalayas is the focus of Ridham Janve’s seductive first feature that won the Silver Gateway award at last year’s Mumbai Film Festival and was selected for Rotterdam’s Bright Future Sidebar.

Spiked with subtle humour and an atmospheric ambient score The Gold-Laden Sheep shows him to be a skilful storyteller in a film that works as a realist moral fable, a sinuous thriller and a stylish monochrome nature mystery with a slow-burning narrative that unfolds in the stunning landscape of the remote Dhauladhar mountain region .

While tending his flock, an old shepherd hears news about a local plane crash and is determined to cash in on the booty, remembering stories of other accidents that have yielded their treasures to the hills. Blinded by greed, he leaves his skiving side-kick to tend the sheep and lambs while he goes in search of the wreckage and – with any luck – the crock of gold. Naturally, things don’t end well for any of them, least of all the lambs.

The cast of newcomers from the Ghaddi community add a convincing feel to this carefully crafted debut that tells through its long takes and fluid camerawork a touching tale about their respect for nature and the holiness of the mountain, which, if disturbed, will change life forever. MT



Love Sonia (2017) ***

Dir.: Tabriz Noorani; Cast: Mrunal Thakur, Riya Sisodiya, Adil Hussain, Mano Bajpayee, Richa Chadha, Freida Pinto, Sai Tamhankar, Raj Kummar Rao, Demi Moore; India 2018, 120 min.

Tabrez Noorani was the line producer of Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi. His debut is slick but over reliant on titillation to raise awareness of the sad plight of sex-trafficking victims in India. 

Each year over 100 000 girls and women are sold or abducted in the Indian sub continent, many of them held in captivity under terrible conditions. Scripted by Ted Caplan and based on a true story by Noorani, Love Sonia is certainly is full of passion, but the aesthetics are based on his former work, and his upfront hyper-realistic approach often collides with his message.

Sisters Sonia (brilliant debutant Thakur) and Preeti (Sisodiya) live with their hardworking parents 1400 miles north of Mumbai. Their father (Hussain) is always in debt, blaming his lack of sons for his misfortune. When he finally snaps, Preeti is sold to his main debtor Anjali (Tamhankar) who works on commission for the pimp Faisal (Bajpayee) and promises to find the girl a maid position in Mumbai. Sonia is traumatised by the loss of her sister, and begs Anjali to be allowed to join her. Anjali takes the naïve Sonia by her word, but when she arrives in Mumbai, Faisal immediately sees a profit in re-selling the virgin Sonia, ordering her to perform ‘only’ fellatio, and later agrees for her to be anally raped. Faisal is supported by Madhuri (Chadha), whom he treats with contempt: she is his toy, aware that he can send her back to please the customers. Meanwhile, Rashmi (Pinto) is raped by her husband, so that he can marry her and sell her on to Faisal. Sonia is finally sold to a bidder in Hong Kong, and shipped to LA, where her story continues.

After a poetic opening, Noorani forces the tempo, and while cruel details do have a place, he sometimes oversteps his mark. Overall, his voyeurism contradicts his message. This is very much Slumdog, with another script. Apart from Faisal, none of the protagonists are really fleshed out. Polish DoP Lucas Bielan (A Grain of Truth), supports Noorani’s approach with a Bollywood bling approach, and although the cast tries their best to get the message over, the film’s racy, overblown credentials are self-defeating. AS


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