Such a Long Journey
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 113 min
Amy International Artists Ltd. (U.K.)
This richly textured and beautifully conceived film comes from acclaimed documentary and fiction filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson. After his extremely popular Gerrie & Louise (1997), he returned with the immensely rewarding Such a Long Journey (1998), a captivating tale about a compassionate soul forced to confront a turbulent world of change. The film is based on the novel of the same title, written by one of the finest living authors of contemporary fiction, Rohinton Mistry.
The film is set in Bombay in 1971, the year India went to war over the fate of what would become Bangladesh. Gustad Noble (Seth) is an industrious bank clerk and a dedicated family man whose tame, domestic existence begins to unravel. His young daughter Roshan (Damania) becomes ill despite the attention and care of his wife, Dilnavaz (Razdan), and his son is unwilling to comply with Gustad’s aspirations for him.
Gustad’s world is further disrupted by the arrival of a letter from his old friend, Jimmy (Shah), and his associate, Ghulam (Puri). The two now work for the government and are seeking Gustad’s help in what appears to be a daring mission. Somewhat naively, and with a considerable degree of doubt, Gustad agrees. It is his first step into an unfamiliar world of deceit, danger and shady dealings with the secret service.
Gustad is a tremendously endearing character amid an equally intriguing roster of personalities: Miss Kutpitia (Padamsee), the medicine lady, who urges the use of convoluted medical spells; the innocent Tehmul (Deboo); and Dinshawji (Dastor), Gustad’s bombastic co-worker and friend.
Such a Long Journey is an intricate, witty drama about a dignified, moral heart and his quest for permanence in an impermanent world. Gustad’s journey is marvellously rendered by Gunnarsson’s details of character and place and the talented performance of Roshan Seth Gandhi, Mississippi Masala).