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Such A Long Journey

     Once upon a time, the Persian conquerors reigned proud in India. But in 1971, the year of Such A Long Journey, the family of Persian descent at the center of this film have been pushed down and squashed together in a lower-middle class Bombay apartment, overlooking a sewerage-reeking, densely crowded slum. The father, Gustad (Roshan Seth), dreams back longingly to his patrician, privileged childhood. Now he's a lowly bank clerk who can't get even his family to respect him. His wife (Soni Razdan) shoves him around, his teenage son rebels against him, balking at dad's plan that he become an engineer. Suddenly, there's a chance of adventure for this Bombay Walter Mitty. An old friend demands a favor, a delivery of a package, and that package turns out to be full of money, and the money is part of a guerilla plot to free Bengladesh from Pakistan. That's the setup. Unfortunately, this plot goes nowhere much, and filmmaker Sturia Gunnarsson, a Canadian, treats even the boiling-over Indian-Pakistan war with Great White North politeness. There's nothing particularily wrong with Such A Long Journey, but it's not exactly incendiary, as it follows the Merchant-Ivory way competently, numbly, by the numbers.

(March, 2000)

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