VENICE18 REVIEW: Tumbbad [2018]

Wake her up and ask yourself. As the Hindu folktale at the start of Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad‘s Tumbbad states: while the Goddess of Plenty birthed 160 million deities from her womb (Earth), the one she loved most is also the one that’s been erased from memory. His name is Hastar and he was her first. As such, he saw the wealth and food she provided mankind and coveted it for himself. He reached for the gold and his brother and sisters allowed it for money was merely…

Read More

SUNDANCE17 REVIEW: Machines [2017]

“Poverty is harassment, Sir” The most pointed question asked by Rahul Jain‘s documentary Machines comes from the camera. By showing us the gigantic textile spools, looms, and washers with only their rhythmic clanks, booms, and bangs opposite the Indian workers applying dyes, mixing chemicals, and ensuring there are no jams to the same sounds, we must wonder which are the “machines” of the title. This is an assembly line of ancient metal units kept moving by a revolving door of migrant workers that start at the age of ten to…

Read More

VIFF11 REVIEW: Patang [The Kite] [2012]

“What do you know about true love?” For Chicago-born Indian-American Prashant Bhargava, his debut feature film Patang [The Kite] is a seven-year labor of love. Rooted in the memory of his own uncles fighting kites in the sky, the writer/director decided to fashion his tale of familial bonds around the northern Indian festival, Uttarayana. By utilizing the dueling of magnificent beauty and fierce warfare the thin paper fliers portray, Bhargava gives us a metaphorical entity to mimic the battle between brothers Umesh and Jayresh. Two boys with differing ambitions, their…

Read More

REVIEW: Sangam [2004]

“Don’t hijack the train” Showing us two men that could be brothers in another life, writer/director Prashant Bhargava creates a short tome on how their similarities are anything but. For Vivek (Sanjay Chandani) and Raj (Hesh Sarmalkar), the magical crossroad Sangam holds great meaning to their pasts. The pilgrimage point where the Ganges, the Jamuna, and the Saraswati meet in Prayag, India, its power to give strength and freedom can take many forms. While one’s distant memory holds it as an exotic land whose beauty is worth experiencing again, its…

Read More