Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins
Theatrical Release: Sep 5, 2008 Limited
Director: Chris Smith
I happened to catch this movie at the local art house cinema (TheaterN). This is a beautifully crafted, contemplative, drama about have and have-nots told in a quiet understated manner that resonates with the viewer. The story behind this movie is almost as interesting as the move itself. The director Chris Smith, made it after reading a short story about an
“The Pool” is about Venkatesh (Venkatesh Chavan) a room boy at a hotel in Panjim,
Venkatesh has a buddy, a younger Jahangir (Jhangir Badshah), an orphan who is also illiterate and who like him works, but at a restaurant. Together on the side they have a business, selling plastic bags for shoppers in the street markets around town. Venkatesh has a strong desire to swim in that pool, and he slowly works up the courage to approach the owner of the house with the pool played by the Bollywood star Nana Patekar. A quiet, brooding father often seen sitting silently by the pool or gardening barely conversing with his teenage daughter played by Ayesha Mohan. She actually detests him. There is a back story here.. a family estrangement, a broken heart and something sad from their past. Venkatesh is hired by the father to work in the garden and the slow bond that develops between the two as they work in the garden together is worth watching. There are no big lines here just two people conversing. Nana Patekar as the stoic father is remarkable as is the chatty Venkatesh as he talks about his life and family back home and his desire to get to a better life by going to school although he is eighteen.
The development of the friendship between Venkatesh and Ayesha and Jhangir is also well handled. The girl recovering from a broken heart is in to young adult novels is initially indifferent to the two, but things change slowly despite the gulf between their statuses.
Ayesha and her dad’s stay at the bungalow is short and as the time for them to depart comes close, the father has taken a liking to Venkatesh and offers him a chance to go with him to Bombay where he will get to go to school and also work for him. Venkatesh has a tough choice to make, move farther away from home, leave behind Jahangir to whom he is like a older brother and friend for a chance at a better life. And what is the secret behind the pool which sits there unused, does Venkatesh get to use it?
You have to see the movie for this and the unexpected twist at the end.
Other things I loved about the movie..
Some great long takes, some wonderful crumbling Portuguese architecture, lush green
There may be one critique about this movie, that despite dealing with issues of poverty and class it does so without any conflict, in the sense that there are no bad people in this movie. There is no outrage here but that may be an issue for those who do not know Indian society and how the various contradictions there exist side by side.
This is a warm, unhurried movie, and it at its heart it is also a story about giving and the joys of giving, that are revealed in layers as the movie progresses from one who has a lot in life and someone who has nothing.
If you are interested in the story behind this movie here is the podcast of an interview with the director Chris Smith. The movie also has a great website with a trailer and pictures and a lot more. The movie also won the special jury price at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.