The importance of this film lies in its complete eschewal of self-importance. Director Anand Gandhi takes on questions that echo across eternities. Rather than assume a position of infinite disposition the film’s tone is one of contained exposition. Sometimes ailing and healing become a unified process. Just as suffering is a precursor to wisdom, so too a film about the curative process can, and in this case, does, provide some profound insight into the workings of the human heart. There are three stories of infinite reverberations in debutant Anand Gandhi’s film. And what a debut Gandhi made!
Speaking on his monk’s role in Ship Of Theseus Neeja Kabi says, “I didn’t come to Mumbai and to film acting to amass wealth, to own a fleet of cars is certainly not my aim in life. I want to play characters that can provoke me into transforming in body and soul.”
Neeraj almost lost his life while losing weight for Anand Gandhi’s film. “I decided to lose 18 kilos for Ship Of Theseus. I was 42 at that time and the doctors warned against messing with my metabolism and blood pressure. Everything went well in spite of the weight loss. It was only towards the end of the shooting in Jaipur that I began to suffer blackouts. So yes, my health did suffer. And I’d do it again for a role if it’s worth it. Though when I did Ship Of Theseus nobody had any idea the film would turn out the way it did. The director Anand Gandhi was completely new.”
But such feats are not performed by Kabi in a self-congratulatory tone. “I’ll do what has to be done for a character. When I approach a role I shed the three tools of imagination, improvisation and reaction that are considered essential by many actors. Instead I respond to the character internally. I don’t do what I think is right for the character. Instead I try to understand what the characters wants from me.”
Funfact about Neeraj Kabi: he is connected to the name Gandhi. He played Mahatma Gandhi in Shyam Benegal’s serial Samvidhan. He worked with director Anand Gandhi in Ship Of Theseus. He has done a film called Gandhi Of The Month in 2014. And his film Talvar released on Gandhi Jayanti that is, Oct 2.
“I think I should re-christen myself Neeraj Gandhi,” Kabi quips.