Such a Long Journey (1998)
“A country on the brink of war… a family torn apart… a man caught in the middle.”
Director: Sturla Gunnarsson
Cast: Roshan Seth, Soni Razdan, Om Puri
Synopsis: Circa 1971, Gustad Noble lives in a one bedroom hall rented apartment in Byculla, Bombay.
Such a Long Journey is a beautifully filmed, intelligent and tightly-plotted study of the disintegration of the family and working life of an Indian man of high principles but low tolerance. Set in 1971 Bombay, Such a Long Journey features a masterful performance from Roshan Seth, and superb support from a cast made up of lesser-known Indian actors.
Seth’s character, Gustad Noble, is initially a passive character, swept up by events that overtake his life, greeting each development with a combination of bewilderment and anger, or meek acceptance. But his gradual (and subtle) transformation as events unfold, enriches his character, creating a complex and multi-layered screen persona that lingers in the memory long after the end credits.
The film’s deliberately casual pace initially complements the flawless attention to detail but perhaps fails to gather the modest increase in momentum required to bring the story to a truly satisfactory conclusion. The photography is superb throughout, whether bathed in a golden hue as Gustad reflects on a childhood he recalls as idyllic, or capturing the vibrant bustle and colour of Bombay’s crowded streets.
Perhaps my only quibble about this otherwise highly recommended movie is the way in which Gustad’s sensible and down-to-earth wife falls under the influence of a witch-like neighbour in her wish for her eldest son to return home.
(Reviewed 1st May 2002)