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Filmfest DC

'A Thousand Dreams': Impassioned in India

By John Pancake
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page C09

"A Thousand Dreams Such as These" unspools the earnest stories of idealistic friends caught up in the radical politics of India in the '60s and '70s.

Siddarth (Kay Kay Menon) is the fieriest of the three. He announces he's moving to the countryside for six months so that he can make the peasants into revolutionaries. His friend Vikram (Roshan Ahuja) shrugs off any idealistic pretensions. Over the next few years, he morphs into a high-rolling dealmaker with an uncanny knack for bribery. Geeta (Chitrangda Singh) waits for Siddarth, but his six-month sojourn stretches into years. She gives up on him. She marries a boozy, abusive government flunky and tries to settle down. But Siddarth is always in the back of her mind. They trade letters and eventually she finds herself slipping off to a secret rendezvous with him.

Chitrangda Singh in Sudhir Mishra's tale of leftists in love. (Pritish Nandy)

Vikram tries to help her get out of her marriage and start a new life on her own. She balks, deciding her place is with Siddarth and the peasants. By this time, he is dodging the oppressive police and the thugs hired by wealthy landowners.

Director Sudhir Mishra's earnest and sometimes confusing film swirls with lots of violence and plenty of unlikely plot twists. As it unfolds, Siddarth suffers, Geeta suffers, Vikram suffers, India suffers. If the film works at all, it is thanks to Singh, who gives her character a deep sense of dignity and decency.

A Thousand Dreams Such as These (118 minutes, in English and Hindi with subtitles) shows tonight at 6:30 and Saturday at 6 at the Avalon Theatre. Not rated, it contains scenes of rape and other violence.

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