I had written about this short film some time ago, but a second watch meant a second post. My first post dwelled on the character of Leon (Prithviraj) but i did not comprehend how limited my perspective was until i watched the directors cut of ‘Island Express’.
I was of 4 years of age i guess, when one of the most horrendous tragedies in the annals of railway history occurred on July 08,1988. The Island Express derailed from atop the Perumon Bridge into Ashtamudi lake taking with it 108 souls to the green rooms of the great drama called life. I remember sketchy details : the grim,sad faces of my parents and the unemotional and detached voice of the newsreader of the Doordarshan channel. Like any tragedy not connected to me by the umbilical cord of a personal relation, this too became a dry leaf among the pages of History. I am not ashamed to say that it took this short film to remind me of the great loss of human life that day after all these years.
My friends who watched the movie with me had many a different favorite from this film but this plot stuck to me. Many a different life converging at one place to pay homage to the loved ones who left them mid stride. In the words of the protagonist it is “Memory with a watermark” and it couldnt have been beautifully summarized. When i watched the movie again, what i found attractive was not the characters but the final five minutes of the movie when each character gives his/her own homage to their loved ones in the form of a few rose petals or a tear filled memory fleeting behind the irises. A human being is the most complex creation ever to grace earth with its presence, one that harbors good and evil in equal measure. There were people who gave up their last breath trying to save others that night and there were those who snatched away a few currency notes or a glittering ornament or two from the dead and the dying. Both existed that fateful day and will continue to do so….it takes all kinds to make the world.
This is my homage after 22 years to those souls, those unfinished dreams, unrealised love, those selfless and brave men and women who valued others more than themselves…I can never truly comprehend what Human Beings are. The movie was but a recollection in under 20 minutes… of hope beyond suffering, of life beyond the ultimate reality called death.