Monday, January 30, 2006

Physics of 15 Park Avenue

The title is a little misleading. I have little to offer on the physics of 15 Park Avenue. But I have some observations. For those not in the know, 15 Park Avenue is a new movie by Aparna Sen -- the director of the amazing Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.

I saw this movie a few weeks ago, and we weren't prepared for the grim mood of the movie. Nevertheless, we came away impressed with the movie. Before you read any further, there are spoilers below -- so if you haven't seen the movie, you might be better off not reading ahead.

From the very beginning of the movie, it seems to have a thread running about questioning reality, and there is also a thread that keeps mentioning quantum physics. Shabana Azmi is a quantum physics professor. She befriends a neurologist who is treating her sister -- played incredibly by Konkona Sen -- of schizophrenia. Together the doctor and the sister have conversations about what is real and what is not. The movie ends where you are left wondering what it was all about -- and it kind of ties these odd ends about quantum physics and reality and alternate worlds, though still leaves a lot of questions.

The other interesting aspect about the movie was how all the characters revolved around Mithi the schizophrenic. Everyone brought their perspective -- the educated sister treats her like a project and a responsibility, the old mother just looks on helplessly, the maid treats her like a pain she has to endure, the deserting lover looks at her with guilt and seeks redemption in trying to help her.

In one of the conversations in the movie, they discuss a sadhu who "hears voices in his head." The mother is an instant believer who thinks this can happen. The scientists are all non-believers and think he is a charlatan. The doctor brings his perspective -- maybe the sadhu is schizophrenic? And this ties the conversation with Mithi, who talks and lives in a world different than the one others around her are living in.


I saw Rang De Basanti last night -- another patriotic themed film by Aamir Khan. It was many times better than the damp affair called Mangal Pandey, of course. The movie had its flaws but I thought the movie was quite well done.

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