Such A Long Journey

on March 24, 2000 by Mike Kerrigan
   This is a story set 30 years ago against the backdrop of a bloody conflict that was already more than 20 years old and has still not ended. But there are no battle scenes, no tanks coming over the horizon. Instead, the tale is about a family many miles from the action but whose lives were reluctantly but inextricably bound up in what was happening in their country.
   Based on the award-winning novel by Rohinton Mistry, "Such a Long Journey" tells the tale of a lowly bank clerk trying to cope amid the dirt and din of Bombay. As wonderfully played by Roshan Seth ("Ghandi", "My Beautiful Laundrette"), Gustad Noble is as patrician as his name would suggest. He is trying to hold his family together, be faithful to his friends and maintain a semblance of dignity. But as a distant war rages, he is caught up in a dangerous situation involving illegal money.
   The tension spills over into his private and professional lives, but he manages to cope and even occasionally to beat the system. There is an unsightly wall outside his apartment building which people have been using as an outside toilet. His solution is to persuade a pavement artist to paint holy pictures on it, thus solving the aesthetic and the sanitation problem in one fell swoop.
   It is this positive attitude which drives Gustad's life and the movie. Despite the depressing setting and circumstances, there is always optimism. Director Sturla Gunnarsson was born in Iceland, grew up in Vancouver and once worked as a shepherd in Crete, but he perfectly captures the mood and rhythms of India.
   It is a satisfying movie--gentle and yet unequivocal. At times, it is reminiscent of the work of Satyajit Ray, and not just because of the setting. Like Ray's work, "Journey" uses a small canvas to tell a big story.    Starring Roshan Seth, Om Puri, Soni Razdan and Rangit Chowdhry. Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson. Written by Sooni Taraporevala. Produced by Paul Stephens and Simon MacCordindale. A Shooting Gallery release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 113 min.
Tags: Starring Roshan Seth, Om Puri, Soni Razdan and Rangit Chowdhry. Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson. Written by Sooni Taraporevala, Produced by Paul Stephens, Simon MacCordindale, Shooting Gallery, Drama

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