×

Alms of the Blind Horse

An attempt to shoehorn film theory lessons on space and time into a tale of powerless Punjabi villagers overwhelms the initial artistry of Gurvinder Singh's "Alms of the Blind Horse."

An attempt to shoehorn film theory lessons on space and time into a tale of powerless Punjabi villagers overwhelms the initial artistry of Gurvinder Singh’s “Alms of the Blind Horse.” Singh, a protege of the late Mani Kaul (credited as creative producer), exhibits a talent for striking compositions and an intriguing sense of stillness, yet after the 40-minute mark, most auds will be begging “Alms” to offer more than undifferentiated placidity. A more hands-on producer could guide the helmer to a tighter sophomore work, but in the meantime, his debut won’t get further than scattered fests.

When houses are demolished by a powerful land-owning concern, the villagers angrily gather, despite knowing their voices won’t be heard. The silent lined face of Father (Mal Singh) provides a lingering image of dignified protest resigned to injustice. His son, Melu (Samuel Sikander John), — the pressbook says son, the subtitles say nephew — a rickshaw puller in the nearby city of Bathinda, is involved in a labor action but spends most of his time frustrated and depressed. Becalmed proletarian struggles are wedded to slow pans and the dissonant notes of a wooden flute.

Alms of the Blind Horse

India

  • Production: A National Film Development Corp. production. Creative producer, Mani Kaul. Executive producers, Nina Lath Gupta, Vikramjit Roy. Directed, written by Gurvinder Singh, based on the novel by Gurdial Singh.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Satya Rai Nagpaul: editor, Ujjwal Chandra; music, Catherine Lamb; production designer, Pankal Dhimaan; costume designer, Saurabh Agarwal. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 9, 2011. Running time: 113 MIN.
  • With: With: Mal Singh, Samuel Sikander John, Serbjeet Kaur, Dharminder Kaur, Emmanuel Singh, Kulwinder Kaur, Lakha Singh, Pran Nath, Sukhdev Singh, Major Singh, Ajmer Aulukh, Gurvinder Makhna, Kanwaljeet Dhillon. (Punjabi dialogue)
  • Music By: