Yesterday, I sat among the NCPA's film elite at the Tata Theatre and Saw Trikall a Shyam Benegal film. The auditorium is quite, quite in adequate for a film show the screen from most seats, looks like a postage stamp stuck crooked. Still the film more than made up for the auditorium.
In the days to come, different people will view the film differently. I can only say how I viewed it.
It is shot in Goa and a part of Goa that I Know well. In the village of Lutolim with its white church the square cemetery the house of Mario de Miranda, the courtyard in the house and the house and the table where you sit and eat a breakfast of tea and the Goan gutli bread.
It was like rediscovering Goa with Neseeruddin Shah (probably the only actor in the Hindi cinema who is not a star) the drive from Dabolim airport through the soft greenness of the countryside, the combination of paddy fields and coconut trees the Lutolim church coming into focus in the evening gloom.
"Turn here," says Neseeruddin Shah to the taxi driver into the driveway of the house of de Mirandas (even as I was about to direct the driver).
The old servant, grown old with the house and the garden and the family, the stairs upstairs which are now rarely used. Living in Bombay and occasionally visiting Goa on a holiday had reduced the de Miranda household to only the ground floor.
Then suddenly the house coming alive as it was in the days before the departure of the Portuguese and the arrival of the jagmohans and the Bikram Voharas and the Punjabi Delhi culture.
The conflicting views and images of the period of transition the Potuguese Goans in the drawing rooms the Konkani Goans in the kitchen. The rooms over stuffed with heavy carved furniture like in the old Peti hall or Chor Bazar shop. The people dressed like in the portraits of their Portuguese ancestors.
I like the camera angles of Shyam Benegal. Keith Stevensons face viewed from under his drooping glasses (very definitely Mr. Stevenson's best performance yet very subdued) Leela Naidu Moraes's lovely profile civilised and alabaster smooth and Neena Gupta face puffed up in the course of the seances.
But most of all it is Goa that Mr. Benegal has captured. The fiddlers at weddings the band playing funeral dirge the priests in their high pulpits the morning sun coming in through the Portuguese balconies the single path leading through a paddy field and Lutolim from now on and forever afterwards a Shyam Benegal village.