Saturday, May 23rd, 2009 6:02 pm
Ocean of an Old Man: Is a poetic drama
An elderly British man (Tom Alter) settled in the islands of Andaman and Nicobar operates a school for poor children staying in the neighbouring isles. These children come to the modest school in boats from neighbouring islands. When the old teacher comes to know that a massive storm is on the way, he takes shelter in a secure bunker.
Starring: Tom Alter, Iris Maya Tittleback, Phalguni Ganopadhaaya, Sipra Sarkar, Raju, Mui
Director: Rajesh Shera
Two weeks later when he is back in his classroom, he realizes few of his students – Guna, Sneha, Mariam, John are absent. All fear they may have drowned in the Tsunami. He tries to comfort those who have lost friends, but only ends up removing from the register the pictures of the lost ones, one by one.
He has a strong belief that the children are still alive somewhere. A government functionary rows his boat all the way to the island to make this announcement, adding that land will be allotted to all those who have suffered. The teacher, too, must move. The old man goes looking for Guna on another island to which people have been evacuated.
Mingled with half-hearted attempts at teaching and intermittent hallucinations are brief flashbacks – glimpses of happier days with his wife and children. Gradually, his class dwindles and then one day there is no one at all. He is left alone to face empty chairs.
In just about 85 minutes of its running time, Ocean of an Old Man succeeds in bringing on screen the physical and emotional devastation wrought by the 2004 tsunami. Having been shot on location in the Andaman Islands, the film provides the perfect backdrop for this poetic drama.
The film is a sheer visual delight and cinematographer Tapan Vyasâ€™ frame is a canvas – roots, spooky, leafless trees, a window frame, an abandoned church, a painted ship on a still ocean. The images dazzle, enhance the pathos and tell a story. The only problem with the film is despite its short running time, the pace drops at many places.
However, what makes the film a must see is the outstanding performance by Tom Alter. Mostly relegated to playing the quintessential â€˜Goraâ€™ villain, Tom delivers a performance of his lifetime and deserves not just accolades but all the possible acting awards.
The rest of the cast aid him well. Special mention needs to be made of the kids who are non-regular actors. They are simply superb with their natural acting.
Agreed it is a slow paced film, but FTII graduate Rajesh Shera has made a film that matches the standards of good world cinema.