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MAMI Day 4: Dinesh Raheja reviews Nicolette Krebitz's Wild & Midi Z's The Road To Mandalay

Speed News Desk | First published: 26 October 2016, 12:05 IST
Wild Movie Still
Wild Movie Still

In Nicolette Krebitz's German film, Wild, the protagonist Ania (Lilith Stangenberg) is shown in close proximity with a grown wolf for much of the film! It's a daringly bizarre film about a human being choosing to return to a primeval stage.

Ania, an intelligent woman in her 20s, is a rebel, who is disillusioned by her job (her overbearing boss treats her like an assistant) and her personal life after her grandfather is removed to a hospital and her sister moves to another city. She defies her routine, anchorless existence and all societal norms to do something unthinkable -- she captures a wolf from a nearby wood and keeps it locked in a room in her flat! The animal can be viewed as a metaphor for her primal self.

She initially feeds the wolf through a hole in a wall but later the boundaries break and they form a single team. As her obsession with the wolf grows, Ania shuts out the mundane world outside. By ceding to the wild, bestial side in herself, Ania is no longer confined by the bounds of what is considered acceptable societal behaviour. She snatches leftover food from restaurants and refuses to meet her sister.

In the pre-climax sequence, she goes to resign from her last link to normalcy - her job. Her boss interrupts two temporary workers while they are caressing her, instructs them to leave, and makes a move on her. She succumbs to his advances though at the beginning of the film she had categorically declined his invitation for a meal. Her newly casual attitude towards sex suggests that she has surrendered to her senses, not resigned to them.

The climax is fodder for endless debate. Her boss, who mistakes the leashed wolf for a dog of an unusual breed, is mauled by the predatory animal. Ania quits her job and flees into the wild with the wolf. Once in the wild, Ania emulates the wolf and drinks water from a muddy pool of water and chomps on a small animal he has hunted for her. Has she found liberation by yielding to her basic, feral emotions? Or does the end signify her liberation from a patriarchal society? It's interpretive cinema that presents some shocking visuals and raises some uncomfortable questions.

The Road To Mandalay

After refuelling ourselves with masala dosa and hot tea, we briskly walked from PVR Icon, Versova to PVR Ecx, Andheri to catch The Road To Mandalay, the screening of which had already begun by the time my friend and I reached.

The 34-year-old Taiwan-based Burmese filmmaker Midi Z has slowly but steadily built a reputation as a realist director. His latest venture The Road To Mandalay dwells on the price the lesser privileged have to pay for ambition and their dreams of a better life. A young Burmese girl, Lianqing, sneaks into Thailand but her quest for a legal work Thai ID and work permit takes her to deceitful agents, a lowly-paid job and a tryst with prostitution (the paying client is represented on screen by an enormous reptile with a flicking tongue to illustrate Lian's repulsion).

Her boyfriend and fellow traveller, Guo, seems to want a simple life. But Lianqing's aspirations for a better life are made of steel. In a chilling climax, your heart goes out to Lianqing and her ilk for the many slips between the cup and the lip that their life encompasses. And it makes you despair at a youthful boyfriend imposing his potent rage on a partner who desires different things.

After the screening Katharina Suckale, one of the producers of The Road To Mandalay (actor Arfi Lamba is the co-producer too), exchanged a bear hug and filled me in details of the early portions of the film we had missed. She said she was prompted to co-produce the film because she loved the script and because she is a huge admirer of Midi Z's work. "Just like I produced Loev because I like Sudarshan Saria's work."

Later, when I was queuing up in the standby line (for those who haven't booked tickets online) of the much-recommended Elle for the 8.30 show, I bumped into Katharina again. She was standing by the snack bar with veteran actor Ashok Kumar's daughter Bharati Jaffrey and her nephew, Varun Patel. Realising that I may not get into the theatre (the line was serpentine) Katharina rued the fact that her red card was not transferrable or "you could have just walked in." My fear came true: we were turned away as we approached the door because the seats had filled up. A fracas between a determined viewer who wanted to enter the theatre and the young MAMI volunteers followed.

I called it a night, chortling heartily at the grandiose statement I had just overheard from a grapes-are-sour cineaste: "I don't want to see the film now. I am like Woody Allen in Annie Hall, I don't see a film if I miss the beginning."

-- Dinesh Raheja (Editor - Bollywood News Service)

First published: 26 October 2016, 12:05 IST
 
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