I had a chance this weekend to watch an English language movie "Amu" written, produced and directed by Shonali Bose. But before I go on to the movie, I probably should tell you a bit about where I saw it and the story behind the theatre.
The city of Wilmington has just one cinema, TheatreN at Nemours. I had heard about this place and that it showed independent movies, but never had a chance to watch one there till Saturday. A bit about this theatre
It really is a converted auditorium and the box office is a table with a cash counter outside the auditorium. I kind of liked the informal simple look of it all. The concession stand was inside the theatre at the back. But the best part of this? A small popcorn, soda, candy, they are all a dollar!
The last movie theatre in
, The Rialto, closed in 1982 and was later demolished. Twenty years later, movies return to Wilmington Wilmington
with the opening of Theatre N at Nemours. Located in The Nemours Building at
1007 Orange Street— the theater underwent renovations that include new seats, painting, carpeting, movie screen and a concession area. It
is located on the first floor of a 14-story building in Downtown Wilmington
formerly owned by the DuPont Company.
Can you beat that at the multiplexes? But that is not all, the theatre is a part of "Emerging Pictures". And they have a rather neat concept.
Emerging Pictures is a filmed entertainment company for the digital age. Representing the fusion of independent film methodology and the latest digital technology, Emerging Pictures will be a major supplier of original content to traditional media outlets and a pioneer in aggregating content for future delivery systems, including its own network of digital theaters that are being created inside of existing arts institutions--Emerging Cinemas.I actually agree that this is where movies are headed. I recently watched Deepa Mehta's Water, streamed live via Netflix and found the experience thoroughly enjoyable. Not to digress, but Theatre N is als only 5 miles from our place and parking is only a 1$ when you watch a movie there. Sweet eh? Both *A* and I agreed that we would come here to watch more movies.
On to the movie..
“Amu” is the directorial debut of Shonali Bose and I found the story of the genesis of the movie as fascinating as the movie itself. At the heart of the movie is a sorry chapter In India’s recent past. This was the brief period after the assassination of
To those of you unaware of the history here, Ms. Gandhi was killed by two of her bodyguards who were both Sikh. This was done in retaliation for Operation Blue Star, which was conducted against the golden temple the holiest of Sikh shrines in an attempt to flush out militants. This was a bloody battle that caused considerable damage to the shrine.
In the 4 days following Ms. Gandhi’s killings, Sikhs in
A synopsis about the movie from its web site below.
Amu is the story of Kaju, a twenty-one-year-old Indian American woman who returns to
How were Kaju’s family involved in the killings? What happened and why? Who were the culprits? Who benefited? Will Kaju have the courage to pursue the truth no matter the cost? Will it destroy her relationship with her mother? Will it affect her burgeoning romance? Will it change everything she knows about herself and about
I loved this movie, Kaju is played by Konkona Sen and she does an excellent job here. The great supporting cast of actors is mostly veterans of Indian cinema/stage and television, except for Kaju’s mother, Keya who is played by Brinda Karat (who is a leftist politician and the director’s aunt) in her debut and Ankur Khanna who also has his feature film debut as Kabir, Kaju’s friend and potential love interest.
The movie is in English with subtitles where other languages get spoken. I did have a little trouble following the rapid fire way in which some Indians speak English but once I got used to it, it was ok.
I did think Shonali Bose does a great job and I could not tell easily that this was her first feature. There were times I thought the camera work and sound could have been better, but this my opinion purely as a viewer. Also when you read what went in to the making of this movie (link), it is truly a labor of love and the technical imperfections (if any) do become secondary.
Konkona Sen comes thru with a strong performance as you see her transform from a typical 20 something fresh out of school young woman who is fascinated with her land of birth to a person trying to understand her adoptive roots which becomes an emotionally wracking journey.
Kaju’s journey in to her past begins with her visits to a slum in
The questions she raises threaten her relationship with her mother and to reopen old wounds that really have not healed. We watch, as her quest for finding out about her parents, bring her close to Kabir. We watch as his disdain for her desire to experience the real
There are a few other threads that run thru this movie that were not quite explained. This could have been due to the fact that the original movie was close to 3 hours. One unexplored issue was the silent tension that exists between Kabir’s parents that one notices especially when the topic of the 1984 riots comes up. This evasion in Kabir’s father is something that recurs amongst other characters in the movie and often seem emblematic of a bigger problem in societies not just in India but also here of not willing to confront sordid episodes in their past.
We also see the power and strength of the bond between a mother and her adopted daughter, and of how it is possible to love someone else’s child as one’s own and the truly transcendental nature of love.
The scene of the railroad tracks that you see in the picture on this post is pivotal in the movie. This is the place where a memory is seared in to a child’s consciousness and where in the present she comes to terms with her past, and I saw it as a metaphor for a new beginning.
It is likely if any of you see it you may see this movie differently but I doubt that you would be unmoved. As for any of you wondering why the name “Amu”, telling you that would be revealing too much.