India, 2008, 117 minutes
Fri, May 1 / 3:30 / Kabuki / MOHA01K
Wed, May 6 / 7:00 / Kabuki / MOHA06K
Thu, May 7 / 7:45 / Kabuki / MOHA07K
Prompted by the receipt of an amateur video showing an altercation at a mining company, a bright-eyed New Delhi TV reporter investigates the case of Mohan Das in Madhya Pradesh, in central India. She discovers an educated villager who has been offered a job at the Oriental Coal Mines only to find that after several months of waiting his job has been filled by an imposter who has assumed his name. Das tells her of the corruption and conspiracy that have cheated him out of a better life. Legal recourse, despite the help of a strong social advocate lawyer and a favorable judgement, does nothing to resolve his problem, and Das finds himself in limbo. Kamranís first film is a striking Kafkaesque tale of identity theft and sanctioned sleight of hand. Above all, it is a searing indictment of a class system in India that subjects the poor to exploitation by darker, unseen forces even when the media and law are on their side. How Mohan Das is stripped of his identity and dignity is reminiscent of the dehumanization of the title character in Ramgopal Varmaís Satya (1998), which marked Kamranís debut as a cinematographer. Bhopal is the capital of Madhya Pradesh, and it is no stretch to see the conspiratorial silencing of Mohan Das as an intimation of what it must have been like to unravel the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984.
In Hindi with English subtitles. Presented in association with 3rd i. West Coast Premiere.