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SHADOWS OF TIME

SYNOPSIS:
Ravi (Sikandar Agarwal/Prashant Narayanan/Soumitra Chatterjee) and Masha (Tumpa Das/Tannishtha Chatterjee/Sova Sen) are orphans who work as virtual child slaves in a carpet factory in pre-independence India. The two become close, and when the boss threatens to sell Masha as a sex slave, Ravi sacrifices his savings to let her run away to Calcutta, promising to join her later on. But despite the lifelong bond between them, the two are destined to spend many years apart.

Review by Jake Wilson:
A full-blown romantic melodrama from India via Germany, replete with coincidences, missed chances, fateful decisions and wordless longing looks. Above all it's the motif of weaving that (so to speak) ties it together: introduced in literal terms at the outset, then reprised in scenes where characters thread their way through crowds, paths crossing and diverging at the whim of fate. Though there's nothing especially original about the pattern thus formed, the film is quite well-directed and, on analysis, surprisingly grim. No-one comes off very well: not the lovers, who bring happiness neither to themselves or others; not the pompous cuckold Yani (Irrfan Khan) naively proud of his bride and infant son; not Ravi's wife Deepa (Tillotama Shome) who allows herself to be sweet-talked while knowing all the time his heart is elsewhere. And finally, not India itself, depicted as a land of tyrannical bosses, surly officials and petty swindlers - particularly in the film's first section, where the youthful Ravi and Masha are exploited by virtually everyone they meet. Self-seeking is universal, though few can be blamed for acting in their own interests; even under the best of circumstances, the innocence of a childhood pact may evolve into something more compromised and murky. That's life, or fate, the film seems to say, though the question remains of why a German director would choose to set this "universal" story in this particular context. Without reading the credits, I wouldn't have guessed the film's provenance, but I wonder how an Indian audience would respond: would they recognise their own history and culture? Or is the setting more like an exotic veil draped over a grim view of things, so that even the most sordid events are closer to romance than realism?

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

SHADOWS OF TIME (M)
(Germany, 2004)

Schatten der Zeit

CAST: Prashant Narayanan, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Irrfan Kahn, Tillotama Shome

PRODUCER: Helmut Dietl, Norbert Preuss

DIRECTOR: Florian Gallenberger

SCRIPT: Florian Gallenberger

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jürgen Jürges

EDITOR: Hansjörg Weißbrich

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Amardeep Behl

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto Entertainment

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Tas: December 22; other States December 29, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

VIDEO RELEASE: April 20, 2006







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