The opener of this year’s Critics’ Week in Venice, Gitanjali Rao’s mesmerizing and lovingly hand-painted feature debut is an ode to love, a city and its cinema.
Working class Kamala sells flowers by day and “dances” by night in the hope of escaping Mumbai and ensuring a different life for her sister Tara. Salim, the Bollywood-obsessed Muslim boy from across the street, awakens in her an alternate existence of passion and romance. While the kindly Ms. D’Souza yearns for her youth and the forbidden love of that time, Tipu, a deaf mute hides in plain sight, a child of the streets in the world’s most bustling city. These characters – and more – cross over into one another’s narratives (and lives). Rao laboriously spent six years crafting this ensemble piece – with every brush stroke a discrete celebration of memory, of folk art and mythology, of color and music.