Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

July 19, 2013

Deep waters

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:44 pm

July 19, 2013

Cast: Aida El-Kashef, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Vinay Shukla, Sameer Khurana

Director: Anand Gandhi

Ship of Theseus, written and directed by Anand Gandhi, requires patience, an open mind, and a willingness to think. It’s not enough to merely sit there in your seat and ‘watch’ the film, but to listen attentively to its characters and consider their arguments. If you’re willing to make that investment, you’ll be rewarded with a richly emotional, intellectual, and sensory experience.

The film follows three separate stories that raise pertinent questions about identity, death, and morality. In the first, we’re introduced to Aliya (Aida El-Kashef), a blind photographer who uses intuition to capture brilliant black-and-white images. A cornea transplant restores her vision, but she fears she may have lost her inspiration. In the second and most affecting story, we meet Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi), a Jain monk and staunch animal-rights activist, who is diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and must consider a transplant. On discovering that the medication that could save his life might have been tested on animals, he refuses treatment. The third story is centered on Naveen (Sohum Shah), a stockbroker and the recent recipient of a donated kidney. He becomes obsessed with bringing justice to a poor man he meets, whose kidney was illegally stolen during an appendix surgery.

These three strands interconnect satisfyingly in a moving climax, and tie in neatly with the overarching philosophical idea thrown up by the film’s title: Does a ship, whose every part has been replaced piece by piece, remain the same ship in the end? Gandhi applies this paradox skillfully to the human body, asking if a person who has had an organ transplant is still the same person he previously was.

Giving us a nice lived-in feel of each of their worlds, Gandhi takes us inside the minds of our three protagonists, showing us what they stand for, and how they’ve changed over the course of the journey they undertake during the film. Each of our protagonists engages in intelligent, thought-provoking arguments, and it’s hard not to come away deeply affected by some of the issues raised. The verbal sparring between the monk and a young lawyer-in-training is particularly engaging, and full of insightful gems worth considering.

Languidly paced and lushly filmed, Ship of Theseus is just as rich cinematically, and benefits from terrific performances by each of the protagonists, particularly Kabi whose physical transformation as the ailing monk is a sight to behold. Gandhi gives us a fine supporting cast too, that occasionally infuses humor in a film that otherwise stings from its brutal honesty.

I’m going with four and a half out of five for Ship of Theseus. It stimulates the one organ that popular Hindi cinema consistently ignores – the brain! Give it a chance and prepare to be dazzled.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. 4.5 star..wow..1st time I think

    Comment by shakti — July 20, 2013 @ 12:02 am

  2. It deserves a five star rating. Although I feel any rating is too less for Ship of Theseus.

    Comment by aritra — July 20, 2013 @ 12:12 am

  3. ” It stimulates the one organ that popular Hindi cinema consistently ignores – the brain!” 😀 well said!

    Comment by Tejas — July 20, 2013 @ 12:26 am

  4. eagerly waiting to go for this sir..

    Comment by abhinav saraf — July 20, 2013 @ 12:40 am

  5. if Anand Gandhi is asking a poignant question by comparing an organ transplant with Ship’s part replacement, then i believe he himself either hasn’t understood the main concept of the paradox or that he did not know in detail about the ship. The man who had his organ transplanted remains the same person, because it is the personality of an individual human being that remains unique, which in turn comes from the brain. The ship of theseus however, was replaced 100% part by part over the course of time. So first of all, a mere (say) 2% replacement is not a valid argument for a 100% replaced ship. Thats unfair by mathematical standards. Secondly, even if it was the case,a ship does not have a personality or a living consciousness. A simple brain transplant can have the effect of a 100% replaced ship and change a person’s identity. So a brain transplant would have been a strong contender for the paradox logic comparison and not a liver/kidney swap.

    Comment by Arindam Sarkar — July 20, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

  6. probably highest rating among all the movies you reviewd… looking forward to watch the movie…

    Comment by Ananth — July 20, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

  7. Deep philosophy – 1 star, Pretentious title- 1 star, Festival circuit- 1 star, Kiran Rao endorsement-1 star, basic audience- Zero
    =4 stars

    Comment by pepguru — July 20, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

  8. Awesome movie and awesome review too! My thoughts of the movie on https://picturedekh.wordpress.com/

    Comment by Amit Baliga — July 20, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

  9. 4.5 *s, it’s the first time I guess! must be definetly awesome movie M sure!

    Comment by Harshit — July 20, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

  10. Thanks for your review. Surely I will go and watch this movie

    Comment by satish h.k — July 20, 2013 @ 11:54 pm

  11. Surely it must be a good movie because getting 4.5 star is not easy from you. Surely will go and watch this movie . Thank you for your review.

    Comment by satish h.k — July 21, 2013 @ 12:01 am

  12. I disagree with the reviews you have given . The script of the film is very good ! But Gandhi just failed to show it through screen play !! It has become a trend nowadays to praise an art film . Dont force urself to praise every art films . its like you obviously feel good when u get dirty water in a desert ! whatever the concept may be if u dnt have an art of showing it , its not an art film ! In one statement , the movie sucks !

    Comment by Ashrith Shetty — July 22, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

  13. http://chillitomato.in/ship-of-theseus-movie-review-watch-it-for-intellectual-and-art-appetite/
    My review on Ship of Theseus

    Comment by Amit — July 23, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

  14. ship of theseus. ..a grt wrk..to watch
    people …who..respects…cinema
    this is a must watch

    Comment by thej kiran — July 23, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

  15. i totally agree with Ashrith Shetty and Arindam Sarkar. And i dont understand why ppl like Anurag Kashyap nd Rajeev Masand always try to bring down the brilliance of Indian cinema thru their senseless comments. Paradox can be easily seen here. First they complain dat we copy frm Hollywood nd den dey want that films like dese(Hollywood types) shud be made. The real paradox is here. Pls be proud of the kind of cinema our country is making, it makes us laugh nd frees us frm stress nd tiredness. Shame dat we hav ppl lyk Anurag Kashyap in our country

    Comment by Utkarsh Dwivedi — July 23, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  16. The movie may please 10% of the audience, but for the rest 90%, especially youngsters, its a near complete boredom and a torture to sit through. I wish Mr Rajeev would also suggest the type of audience who r going to enjoy the movie getting his favourable reviews. For me it was a wasted 3 hrs and the money as well and the reviewer would no more be considered reliable in future.

    Comment by manju desai — July 23, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

  17. Review by Honorable Mr. PURUSHOTTAM Aggarwal, member of UPSC. I found it good, so, copy pasting it here…
    On ‘Ship of Theseus’
    I wrote a status describing it as ‘one of the ‘most pretentious and flawed films’ immediately after watching it and a comment soon after, here I reproduce my comment….

    I will try to write a short note on this film. At the moment, just this, the film makes a case for organ donation, a very noble thing to do in itself, but without addressing itself to the needs of the narrative and craft, without which a case for a noble cause can be made by a pamphlet as well.
    moreover, in order to sound, rather seem reflective and philosophical, the first two stories in the film torment the audience with superficial verbal and visual jugglery, doing violence of over-simplification with the Jaina doctrine of existence .
    only the third story has some semblance of a credible story-line and interesting characters, but nothing like out of this world acting performances as some people claim to have found.
    the device of connecting the three stories is predictable, almost hackneyed, and does not go with the title, because the relation of the donor’s body with those of the recipients does not reflect the moral of philosophical reading of the Theseus legend.
    one more point, the film could have better named ( with lack of understanding on part of the director remaining a constant) -‘Milind Prashna’; but then it would probably not sell that well with the intended audience consisting of US, Europe and yuppi India

    Comment by Varaprasad — July 26, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

  18. It’s not first time. RM gave 5 stars to ‘Social Network’. criticism of this movie in comments here is totally rubbish. its not about 100% or 2% replacement, philosophically similar questions are being dealt with. Brain of humans can be compared with sail of the ship!!
    this movie is engaging, forces you to invest and challenges you to think. i liked 3rd part the most. you do the good things not to change the world but because they are good things. As simple as that.

    Comment by rohit mishra — July 26, 2013 @ 11:53 pm

  19. I have a doubt, regarding what the director/ the film is trying to convey… Yes, the ship was replaced piece by piece. But the story says – What if the same used pieces were used to make another ship. Then does this new ship become Theseus? Because this would translate to the question – Do the people who received the organ transplants have any shade of the original person?
    Please give your thoughts.

    Comment by Ajay — July 30, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

  20. If you ask me the first half needs to be re-edited then it becomes a good art movie with very good one liner Philosophy! A 3 out of 5 after re-editing.

    Comment by Ranga — August 7, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

  21. Is it me or anyone also felt when I am just going to climax to be dazzled, I felt its more of “Seven Pounds”?

    Comment by Sujay — August 11, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

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