(director/writer: Sarvnik Kaur; cinematographer: Ashok Meena; editors: Atanas Georgiev, Blagoja Nedelkovski; music: Igor Vasilev Novogradska; cast: Rakesh Koli (self), Ganesh Nakhawa (self); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Koval Bhatia, Sarvnik Kaur; A Little Anarky Films; 2023-India/France-in Hindi, Marathi, English with English subtitles)

“Beautiful lyrical documentary.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
India’s Sarvnik Kaur (“A Ballad of Maladies”) directs and writes this beautiful lyrical documentary, a plea for fishermen to have ecological awareness, as over-fishing with too much technology and climate change threaten a traditional way of life in India. Her striking film explores in a meditative way the plight of the modern-day fishermen in Bombay, India, among members of the Koli community. There she visits with the indigenous fishermen friends from childhood, Ganesh Nakhawa and Rakesh Koli, and with them raises questions as to the benefits of modern fishing methods opposed to traditional ones.

Rakesh lives with his mother-in-law, his wife, and their two children in a modest home that recently added running water. Everything about him is old-fashioned and traditional, including his boat and traditional fishing practices. He has never left Bombay.

His close friend Ganesh studied in Scotland, lives with his wife in a well-equipped modern apartment and uses outlawed LED lights to deep water fish.

Both are struggling financially. Rakesh because the prices for his fish are lower than ever and his medical expenses for his newborn child put too much of a pinch on his income. Ganesh because he’s in debt paying for his modern equipment, his boat, and his crew. He has selfishly taken out a loan of $18K loan for LED lights and then another $120K loan for another boat.

The two might differ in fishing methods and lifestyles but still call themselves brothers, even after heated verbal exchanges about the right way to fish.

Neither man is perfect. The likable Ganesh is a capitalist who needs to make a profit. The humble Rakesh is accepting of doing things like the ancients, and of fishing in the shallow waters where there are less fish. He’s willing to earn less because it’s the way to make sure fishing will continue in India.

The enemy is pictured as those who discard their humanitarian ethics for greed.
Capitalism is seen as a system that is unavoidable but must be exercised in a measured way.
It played at the Sundance Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 11/28/2023  GRADE: B+