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Poignant and absolutely captivating

mid-day (EN)

The film is a tale of two women - Mother Teresa, portrayed Swiss actress
Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz, and Kavita (Banita Sandhu), a privileged youngviolinist of Indian origin. The juxtaposition of these two lives is the
basis for the film. An intriguing tale of intertwined destinies, this
soulfully spirited film written and directed by Swiss/Indian Kamal Musale
(better known for films such as 'Curry Western' and 'Millions Can Walk'), is
a poignant and completely captivating tale of two women. Musale's
evocatively realised narrative straddles two different timelines in parallel
form as he unravels the inner makings of the two passionate and
uncompromising women from two different generations, whose lives are
intertwined by the darkness they experience in their respective lives. We
see Mother Teresa (portrayed brilliantly by Swiss actress Jacqueline
Fritschi-Cornaz) in her early years as she arrives in Calcutta, India, a
year prior to Independence. Her request to the archbishop to start her own
order has been acceded to and her life as Mother Superior in the Sisters of Charity has begun. The film opens with Mother Teresa foraging for food to support 300 starving orphan girls under her care. It's a time of political
turbulence, riots, and unrest, and the younger Mother Teresa, clad in her
habit of a simple white sari bordered in blue lines, comes face to face with
lumpen elements who threaten her physically. It's a pattern that repeats
itself through the early years of her life in India as she struggles to
bring succour to the homeless, the ailing, and the disadvantaged. Kavita
(Banita Sandhu), a privileged young violinist of Indian origin living in the
UK, is plagued by self-doubt following a broken love affair that leaves her
feeling abandoned and saddled as she is with an unwanted pregnancy. The historical parts of Mother Teresa's life are brilliantly documented in black and white, while the modern story of Kavita is portrayed in colour. The juxtaposition of these two lives is the basis for the film. While Mother
Teresa's early life story is a revelation, the modern tale of unrequited
love and betrayal is a fictitious melodrama added to highlight the acts of
selflessness and resilience through single-minded purpose.

It appears that there's no meeting ground for the two parallel stories but
Musale manages to build connect as he gradually reveals the elements that intertwine the two destinies while forging bonds of hope, compassion, and love with other characters who join in the chorus of selfless love meant to benefit the unsupported. Deepali (Deepti Naval) a volunteer at the Sisters of Charity's Nirmal Hriday and Sister Agnes (Heer Kaur), fortify those bonds with their illuminating presence. Musale's narrative is non-linear as it goes back and forth in time through both parallel tracks, creating a mesmerising alchemy of thought and engagement.  Mother Teresa's immensely worthy life has in fact been given a contemporary colour that brilliantly brings out contrasting and changing values while making peace with controversial issues like abortion. Musale's narrative even manages to shed light on Mother Teresa's darkest moments as she grapples with her belief in God while faced with unrelenting poverty. Musale’s film may be unconventional but its attempt to straddle two worlds and mindsets in such enlightening fashion makes it all the more intriguing.  This dramatization has the power to inspire us to look within and bring about a small change in our own warped value systems.

Mother Teresa & Me Movie Review: Poignant and completely captivatingUpdated on: May 05, 2023 06:00 PM IST  |  MumbaiJohnson Thomas

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