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Take a Thai trip

The Thai film festival organised by the Hyderabad Film Club, starting today, is a mix of the sacred and the profane.



Poster punch The cast of `Last Life In The Universe'.

Thai films give us a feel of the similarities between our cultures. Folded hands like our Namasthe is the form of greeting while mythologically, there is the Buddha and the sacred snakes, the Nagas. The delightful Mehkong Full Moon Party tells the story of the fireballs that rise out of the Mehkong River on the last day of the Buddhist Lent.

The film uses gentle humour to test the boundaries of faith and reason. Writer director Jira Maligool, who is also a reputed ad guru, tells the story of Kan, a young man who may know more about the non-mystical aspects of the balls of fire than he lets on. He is pulled in opposite directions - by the monk who brought him up and his childhood sweetheart who is now going out with a doctor who wants to prove the origins of the balls of fire using scientific reasoning.

A charming little film, Mehkong Full Moon Party enters into simple gags with the same gusto used to tackle universal truths. With the ultimate advertising tag line "Believe in what you do, do what you believe in," the film sets itself firmly in the template of pop spirituality.

Tropical Malady, the second film of the festival is as beautiful as it is baffling. Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes, the film directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul follows a soldier, Keng who falls in love with a country boy Tong. Homosexuality is dealt with a delicate maturity. The second half of the film moves into magic realism as a man disguises himself as tiger to meet a shaman.

Last Life in the Universe is the ultimate odd couple movies. Directed by Pen-ek-Ratanaruang, the film follows the fortunes of an obsessive-compulsive librarian Kenji who is forever contemplating his suicide in a variety of ways.

His morbid thoughts are interrupted when a beautiful young woman throws herself in front of a car and Kenji pays a courtesy call to the woman's elder sister Noi. Thus begins a strange relationship of opposites, as Noi is as messy as Kenji is neat. The film is rather obscure and will take quite a few viewings and enormous patience to get into the groove.

If Last Life in the Universe is obscure, Jan Dara is also ambiguous but definitely not for the amount of sex that is shown on screen! Based on the controversial book by Usana Ploengtham, The Story of Jan Dara, the film is set in pre-War Thailand.

The movie follows Jan, from the time of his birth, which claims his mother's life and his father's hatred, till the Second World War where Jan realises he has turned into what he most hated - a carbon copy of his father.

The film is beautifully lit and shot and you can watch it just for that. Otherwise this feature directed by Nonzee Nimibutr is not particularly gripping and tests the viewers' patience by going on about things that the viewer would have figured out eons ago.

Mini Anthikad-Chhibber

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