I was extremely fortunate to be present at the premiere screening of the movie “Monsoon” at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014. The movie depicts how the vast Indian sub-continent is so deeply dependent on the monsoons and rain, and how every aspect of life is affected by its arrival …. or non-arrival, whether in the cities or in the villages of India.
From the very onset of the monsoon clouds originating in the Arabian Sea and the start of the monsoons in Kerala, the director, Sturla Gunnarsson and his crew follow the journey of the monsoons from Kerala, to Maharashtra, Kolkata and other areas of India, including Cherrapunji, in the state of Meghalaya, the “wettest place on the earth”.
Along with the crew, the audience follows the lives of different families and personalities, whose existences are deeply affected by the arrival of the rains, as well as the drought areas which receive very little or no rain at all.
There is Akila and her family in Kerala, who wait eagerly for the rains to arrive, and eventually end up losing everything because of the floods. In sharp contrast, farmers in drought affected villages in Maharashtra state lose everything because of the lack of rain in their areas for several years. While the big cities of Mumbai welcome the onset of the monsoons, and Bollywood superstars sing and dance to a romantic rain-song, Sturla and his crew show vividly how animals in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam are affected by the rain and require protection against floods and poachers.
Interviews with meteorologists portray how the onset of the monsoons is predicted, and the importance of declaring their arrival at the right time. Timing is of the essence, failing which, the government fears a decline in the stock market, and public confidence and retail sales could be very adversely affected.
Shot in high resolution 4K, the photography in the movie is absolutely breath taking, ….every single detail is visible as though it were happening right in front of your eyes. The music is soulfully penetrating and resonating, almost haunting!
On a personal note, I felt so connected to so many of the scenes in the movie. Especially the scenes shot in Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar and Kolkata. On the other hand I did feel a few scenes could have had a bit less detail or could have not been included in the film.
Although the movie is 108 minutes in length, apparently more than 200 hours were filmed before being edited. I learned that CBC plans to air some of the edited hours of the movie later this fall, and I cannot wait to see what else Sturla and his crew had filmed along their journey to capture the Indian monsoon.
All in all, a must see film!
Thank you Sturla for MONSOON!
- Padmaja Ritu Luther, Toronto, Canada