Every design tells a story and so does the world of cinema narrating through the moving visuals and characters belonging to the multidisciplinary ideologies of celebrating life. Architecture helps in constructing a psyche expression to break the mystery behind the labyrinth of people, place, and time. Analyzing Ship of Theseus, which in each of its three plots questions one’s meaning of existence, justice, beauty, and whatnot, death, and talks about how every living character is somehow a part of another. We evolve through constant explorations and experiments, so is the movie which teaches us life lessons and imprints amazing visuals for-ever.

Movie for Architects: Ship of Theseus; By Anand Gandhi - Sheet1
Movie for Architects: Ship of Theseus; By Anand Gandhi - Sheet2

Genre: Indie film | Drama | Vérité
Director: Anand Gandhi
Cinematographer: Pankaj Kumar
Location:  Mumbai, Jaipur, Chitkul (Himachal Pradesh), Stockholm.
Lead Cast: Aida El-Kashef, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah
Run Time: 143 min
Released On: 6 September 2012 (TIFF), 19 July 2013 (India)
Trailer: https://youtu.be/TNW5J6BPltU 

Decoding the title:

The movie starts with a greek myth of change of identity part by part and hence questions on losing its authenticity. If we change the parts of the ship one by one, will it be the same ship? Comparing the same thought with the human body and the same applies to architectural marvels, as the decades pass, our body inhabiting more than 3 million bacteria faces change in numbers, amounts, some get decayed and some take birth, Are we the same person we were a month or year ago? Hence leading to the question of does a soul really exist?

Dialogue of Senses:

In the first plot of the movie, a blind Egyptian photographer is seeing her world through her senses, perceiving, and questioning every of her steps by just touching and hearing. In a world where visuals take the leads and try to compensate for the flaws of other experiences, she tries to capture every sense of her surroundings in the form of photographs and people were noticing the same. When she finally gets her sight back, all of a sudden she feels like losing her eyes of the skin, with the eyesight she was no more able to be the same person she was, with the change in her sense the whole world around changed. 

This plot teaches us the multisensory approach to see the world/nature/architecture, feel the space, and picture it through each of our senses. It also talks about accepting the change and growing with it, we might not be the same person we were before; biologically, physically, and emotionally.

Movie for Architects: Ship of Theseus; By Anand Gandhi - Sheet3
Movie for Architects: Ship of Theseus; By Anand Gandhi - Sheet4
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Movie for Architects: Ship of Theseus; By Anand Gandhi - Sheet7

Living in Paradox:

In the second plot which starts with the introduction of an old Jain monk in his single piece of white cloth, walking on the streets with an umbrella alone, who is traveling on foot with changing landscapes, he with other monks is passing every step to reach the destiny. Culturally Jain monks depend on the arms of others, without any desires they live to find their soul, follow the karma rule, and never go against nature. Clearing an image of minimalism and simplicity this plot depicts a sustainable living. Describing a very human nature of fear, besides people’s rituals and ideals, it showcases how a living entity in this earth fears death. And then a question arises if a soul really exists? The man who has lived his whole life for doing good and finding his soul replies with a gesture of knowing nothing. With the emotion of fear and acceptance of change, he accepts to take medication and chooses to live.

This teaches how each of us is dependent on others and a minimal life can lead to a better world for each of us.

Discovering Humanity:

Isn’t happiness and compassion enough to live life? Was the question the protagonist asks by introducing his simple character, while when he finds out about a poor guy’s stolen kidney by echoing voice of a crying lady through the silent hospital corridor, driven by humanity, he tries to help him, walks through the narrow street in a slum settlement, visits the police station and travel to Stockholm as an NGO worker to deliver a poor man’s kidney back to him. Humanity can be seen in all the characters of the story, the rich person who stole the kidney finds himself in guilt and tries to compensate one’s life with baggage of money to a person who has never thought of even seeing that much amount of money.

The plot clarifies the concept of capitalism in architecture through the locations, characters, language, costumes, and rituals. How a rich man owns over the life of a poor, in a sense how we celebrate the wonders in architecture neglects the slums.

After all, we all are connected!

Linking the stories at the end generates a sense of wonder of how it’ll be to meet with others having part each of the same person, isn’t a man made in parts? Or if we change them parts by parts, will the person change? The scene is shot in the grandeur of high ceiling and artistic columns. A set has been designed to create an audiovisual room to screen the shots by the donor of all the recipients. The video moves in a manner as if someone was coming out of a womb and bringing light in each and everybody’s face. The shots were from a cave and reflected the light from the wet stones and bring tears to everyone’s eyes.

Movie for Architects: Ship of Theseus; By Anand Gandhi - Sheet8

Gingered by Minimalism: 

Talking about the frames by Pankaj Kumar who showcased only what the director wanted the audience to see, shot in multiple locations, Streets of Bombay, changing frames of Jawahar Kala Kendra of Jaipur, covering mountains of Chitkul (Himachal Pradesh), and reaching to Stockholm. The minimal ideology behind the story plots as well as in the visuals leads one to attain a more minimal life, respond to nature, and take only what is in need.

The thought-provoking plot is going to leave a thousand narratives of interpretations to each mind. Every one of us has gone through different circumstances and hence developed a different sense to perceive things. 

After all,

Eyes attract images, 

Images trigger thoughts, 

Thoughts links associations, 

Associations conjure stories, 

Stories create myths, 

Myths generate new realities.

~ BV Doshi

Movie Link:



Ankita Agrawal is a 4th-year undergraduate, pursuing her Bachelor's of architecture from MITS, Gwalior MP. She often sees herself as a curious and determined individual, enjoying new experiments in life. She is a keen learner, observer, and implementer. She travels to broaden her mind, experience a new culture and its essence to enrich her creativity.

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