A first film made almost single-handedly on a tiny budget, this is an admirably ambitious stab at the documentary-essay form familiar from films like Chris Marker's Sunless. A brazenly personal response to Calcutta, it attempts to delve beyond the facile notions the West entertains about the city ('an example of wretched over-population'), and combines vivid visuals with a narration that plunges fearlessly into economics, politics, religion, sociology and philosophy. At times the verbal text is too densely literary and abstract, making its often tortuous theses somewhat opaque, but the collision of images and words is generally provocative and telling. Adverts, movie clips, comic strips, stills of the director's mother, footage of religious ritual and street life merge into a complex web of ideas that are neither hackneyed nor obvious. A tantalising effort.
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