Will Liar’s Dice Bring Home An Oscar For India?

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Will Liar’s Dice Bring Home An Oscar For India?
Of the most human tragedies, the ones that threaten the existence of human life carry a lot of pain. For instance, when you witness/hear of floods, devastation, earthquake, tsunami etc, your heart moves for those who are affected, no matter how far they could be from you. You resolve to help. Millions like you, feel the same and social service organisations (some, at least) collect food, donations, medicines and take them to the needy. Bygones turn into bygones and we continue with our lives till another massive tragedy strikes again.

These are one off incidents of human sufferings. What about those sufferings where people endure it for a lifetime? Like poverty? Like being born in a community which is always at a disadvantageous position? Like being a lowly woman in a patronizingly patriarchic society?

In the past too, films and literature have tried to unravel the experiences of human existence through various social strata, the most vivid one from those communities which exist, but have no negotiating powers.
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Parallel cinema in India has been exploring this and many more facets of people’s lives since long. The world’s biggest film industry often makes space for films that throb with real life and not always make glossy and soft focus frames tell a story in flashback.

Liar’s Dice is a story of migrant labourers. Especially, that of a woman with her daughter (and her goat) who come from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi in search of the head of their family, who has gone to work as a daily wage labourer in the big and ever expanding bylanes of New Delhi (and NCR?).

Indian cinema has been struggling hard to come of age as far as story-telling is concerned, when the subject is rock-solid. Parallel cinema is surely not for mainstream audience. Those ‘award-winning’ films get a silent release, no promos, and even make a more muted exit than the release itself.
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They make news only when they are appreciated at the international arena. Then it turns into their time of limelight and few minutes of fame.

Actor turned director Geetu MohandasLiar’s Dice is a story of human endurance through social issue such as migration of the labour class. The absence of support, the poverty, sense of alienation all put together, the film shines like a diamond. Make no mistake, this isn’t about celebrating poverty, but understanding the layers of societal experiences when you come with less or no powers to negotiate with the society around you.

This is the tale of a woman in search of her husband who has gone to earn bread for his small family of three living in Himachal Pradesh, to the faraway Delhi. He remains incommunicado, and his wife gets worried. She sets out in his search, and arrives at the hot-seat of India’s democratic fable New Delhi. The Delhi of wide roads, smaller by lanes, Parliament or Rashtrapati Bhavan is not her Delhi. She is here as a sole unit. With her daughter and her goat in tow. They will return only if the father is found. But, where to find him in a city which is known for its goblin-isque nature?
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The wife played by Gitanjali Thapa, and the role of the husband played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui make for a stunning performance and such a heartrending show of poverty and alienation by class and geography.

However, it could just be a coincidence that Lixin Fan made a film on similar theme few years ago, and held the attention of the audience on issues of Chinese migrants into ‘developing China’ cities. The Last Train Home told a story that was strikingly similar, if not the same as Liar’s Dice.

Image: Indiatimes.com
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