Monday, December 08, 2008

[Asian Festival of 1st Films] Bullets and Butterflies

Travelling Companion

This played out like a travelogue pretty much like Harman Hussin's Road to Mecca, where the filmmaker documents the moments during his travel. But unlike the Singapore film, the director/protagonist in this one didn't begin with an intended end in mind, but just seized the moment to do something memorable, before self-doubt and second guesses kicked in. It's something like travelling for the sake of travelling, going with the flow

Deciding to take a trip of some 550km up to the hills of Himachal Pradesh on his Bullet motorcycle, I guess many in the audience would see the romanticism in the riding a bike, with the wind caressing one's face, without a care in the world, just taking in the sights. Except that director Sushmit Ghosh decided to up the ante by travelling with a complete stranger. He met a young boy of 15 years, Rajesh, who had lost his legs from slipping out of a moving train. Thus this became a road trip documentary of sorts, and indeed speaks wonders about this world being one without strangers, where they have to rely on the goodwill of others, and demonstrates the building of bonds and friendship between Sushmit and Rajest over the course of a week.

Despite being hampered by fog and rain from the start, the duo never let any adversary get in their way. They look like having plenty of fun during the travels and the shoot, which by no means was easy because they just had each other to rely on, and to generate certain shots for the documentary required some tenacity and plenty of repetition involved, which was highlighted at one point in the film, having a kind of "making-of" feel to it as well. Some shots were clearly cheeky, which allowed the audience to admire the beautiful scenery captured, before the duo on their bike entered the frame, to ruin the peace and serenity.

There are moments though that you might think certain situations were engineered artificially for laughter or to spice things up a little from the mundane, such as the episode with the Tibetian Tea, but alas I'll never find out because plenty of dialogue unfortunately came without subtitles. So those in the audience who could understand the language used, had a field day with the film, because I think Rajesh is a rather comical person, and plenty of things he said inevitably drew plenty of laughter. I only wished I had understood what he meant.

Nonetheless it provides a seldom seen view of India, especially for those who have yet to travel to the country, and for friends who know about my Plan B, I'd say I have every inclination to do so on a sturdy motorcycle.

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