3rd I



Bombay Summer

Saturday, November 7
Castro Theater, San Francisco

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Director: Joseph Mathew
Country/Year: India/USA, 2009
Running Time: 102 mins
Language: English and Hindi with English subtitles

Director Joseph Mathew in person

Joseph Mathew's sensuous and unhurried look at contemporary India appears to be the seasoned work of a master, but in fact this is his first narrative feature. In the languor of a Bombay Summer, three young artists form a delicate friendship. Tanishtha Chatterjee (Brick Lane) is outstanding as the self-assured Geeta, a pasionate graphic designer with a zest for life, in the midst of an affair with Jaidev, a would-be writer from a rich family. While Geeta deftly balances work, love, and family, Jaidev chafes against his privileged background to craft an independent existence. Enter Madan—a struggling artist who supplements his income selling drugs.

Journeying together across class and landscape—from the studio space of Bollywood poster painters to a crumbling old textile mill on the outskirts of the city, from the cool modernism of Geeta’s office to the bleached and worn beauty of Madan’s seaside home village—the three form a bond that threatens to disturb the summer’s relaxed equilibrium.

Mathew (whose training is in photojournalism and documentary films) builds the story like a quiet symphony that crescendos to an unexpected climax. Interwoven throughout is the juxtaposition of old and new, tradition and transformation. “The film is as much a story about [the characters’] relationship as it is about the city in which they live. Like the characters, the city is also in the throes of change," wrote director Joseph Mathew. Watching the film is (re)discovering Bombay, and falling in love with it (all over again).