Such A Long Journey

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Such A Long Journey

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Among the more fascinating aspects of the decades-long skirmishes between India and Pakistan is its effect on the Parsees, a relatively wealthy and politically neutral minority situated primarily in Bombay. Arriving on the heels of Deepa Metha's overrated Earth—which concerned the devastation sparked by British India's partitioning into two countries in 1947—Such A Long Journey is the second and more successful film in as many years to view the conflict through Parsi eyes. Roshan Seth gives a quietly affecting performance as an ordinary father and banker in Bombay just before the abbreviated India-Pakistan War in 1971. Memories of his affluent youth are interwoven with his humble life in a congested apartment compound, where fighting literally threatens to break out at his doorstep. As a Parsi, Seth wishes to retain his neutrality, but his loyalties are tested when a long-absent friend asks him to launder resistance money for the war effort. Adapted from Rohinton Mistry's acclaimed novel, Such A Long Journey makes the common mistake of diluting a strong central story with too many minor subplots and detours, but Canadian director Sturla Gunnarsson captures the anxious tone of the period with impressive acuity and detail. Given the abundance of grossly sentimentalized characters around him—a daughter with malaria, an estranged son, a retarded naif—Seth's understated everyman keeps the melodrama in check, at least until the overwrought finale. Though riddled with flaws, not least of which is its failure to clarify its hero's connection to Indira Gandhi's government, Such A Long Journey puts the Parsees' dilemma in universal terms, vividly demonstrating how no one is spared from war's perilous undertow.

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