Ship of Theseus, also known as ‘Theseus’ Paradox’, is an irony that raises the question – can an object that has had all its components replaced remain fundamentally the same object? In other words, does a ship, which was restored by replacing all its components, remain the same ship? As the credit’s start to roll, this is the voice-over you listen to and you’re already thinking about life and its contradictory stages.
Aaliya (Aida El-Kashef) is a visually impaired but celebrated photographer in the process of undergoing a cornea transplant that will restore her vision. Although the surgery is a success and Aaliya’s vision is restored, she has trouble adjusting to her newfound sense of sight and is unhappy with her photography. Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi), an intellectual monk, is part of a petition to ban animal testing in India. When he is diagnosed with cirrhosis, his reluctance towards taking medication is questioned.
A young stockbroker, Navin (Sohum Shah), has just had a kidney transplant. He soon learns of a case that involves an illegal kidney transplant relating to an underprivileged brick layer. His initial fear is that his new kidney originally belonged to this man. An investigation into the issue proves otherwise. How the three stories are connected forms the crux of this story.
Writer and director Anand Gandhi, who has won many accolades internationally and nationally for his short films, is a powerful story teller. The simplicity and anguish in each frame is clear but subtle. Many scenes are overwhelming and in tune with the essence of the subject. Gandhi smartly carves out a niche screenplay and holds his narration firm throughout. His writing is like poetry, which makes you think.
Scenes that standout are when Navin along with his friend tries to locate the brick layer; the scene where Aaliya after regaining her sight looks at her photographs, and the one where Maitreya refuses to take his medication and his great agony.
Cinematography by Pankaj Kumar is good. Editing by Adesh Prasad, Sanyukta Kaza and Satchit Puranik could have been tighter but he does justice to the narration. Music and background score are fine.
Performance-wise, each character portrays their respective parts with conviction and ease. Sohum Shah is excellent and brings out the many layers in his character. Neeraj Kabi is an exceptional actor. He emotes with refinement and gentleness. Aida El-Kashef is good and does justice to her part. The others, from Amba Sanyal to Vinay Shukla and Faraz Khan do justice to their respective parts. The rest of the cast supports well.
Verdict: Presented by Kiran Rao and distributed by UTV Motion Pictures, Ship Of Theseus has very strong backing attached to its name. The film is clearly aimed at a niche, multiplex audience, which will limit its prospects at the ticket counter.