Lights! Colors! Music! Motion poisoning! It’s love at first sight when nine-year-old Samay, from a poor background in a remote village in India, lives cinema for the first time. He immediately decided to make films as his profession. Wherever he goes, he sits and stands, exploring the magic of light from now on, catching the sun’s rays with his hands and casting shadows on the wall, looking at the world through the broken stained glass and noticing the refraction of the light. “I want to understand the light, because light turns into stories, and stories turn into movies,” he says. But his father, a fully devout Brahmin, does not much understand his son’s new passion: “The world of cinema is unbecoming and violates all our values,” he said, “Have you ever heard that a Brahmin son has such a shameful perhaps business?”
Samay is the soul mate of young Billy Elliot. Just as he had to defend his passion for dancing twenty years ago against the manhood of British coal miners, Sammy now has to assert his lifelong dream against his father’s anti-image tradition. Since then, after school, he secretly sneaks into the cinema in the nearest big city. He became friends with showman Fadl. He willingly trades in lunch his mother lovingly prepares for the opportunity for him to watch movies through the window in the screening room. Fadl also introduced him to learning about the secrets of cinematography, the interaction of light and darkness, movement and stillness.
Soon Samay conveys his friends with his enthusiasm for cinema. The boys discover the warehouse that distributes film rolls across the country and steal a few, causing quite a stir in theaters when the movie cuts short to its most exciting moment. It’s a touching picture where children are lying on the grass, sliding film strips through their fingers and holding them in front of the sunlight. Then they make an improvised silent film projector from scrap parts and organize a show for the whole community. Kids play the sound live using classic Foley artist tricks. The percussion of little hands on the chest becomes trampling of the horses, they mimic the wind by blowing into the neck of the bottle, falling keys and dripping pebbles become a treasure, and, as in the Punch and Judy show, they warn of the bad guys and cheer the good guys. Another coup is represented by the child actors, who all show their natural charm for the first time in front of the camera, and above all Bhavin Rappari as the young alter ego of the director. The sense of Pan-Nalen always shines through in the documentary and prevents the film from becoming comical or emotional.
The director himself experienced the happiness of storytelling in his youth
Several film directors have spoken of cinema as a savior and a source of meaning, as a means of escaping from bad and hopeless circumstances: just as Giuseppe Tornatore in “Cinema Paradiso” and more recently Kenneth Branna in “Belfast”, Indian director Pan Nalin (“Samsara”) has his cinematic debut, which has Here are the express spiritual dimensions. The fact that sparks of enthusiasm for the magic of cinema are flying straight has a lot to do with the excitement he creates in his images. This applies not only to the magic of light, but also to the delicacies that Samay’s mother prepares of rice, vegetables and brightly colored spices while sitting on the floor. At such moments, “The Light That Dreams Made” reminds us of the romance “Lunchbox” by Rich Batra.
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Honoring the happiness of storytelling, as Nan Palin himself experienced in his youth as the son of a Brahman tea seller, repeatedly became a declaration of love for his Indian homeland. At the same time, “The Light That Dreams Are Made of” is a sad farewell to classic movie screenings. In the end, Samay follows up on the truck carrying the old film rolls, which are given a new, colorful, and shiny purpose at the recycling plant.
View the last movie, India, France, USA, 2021 – Written and directed by Pan Nalin. Camera: Swapnil Sunawan. Starring: Bhavin Rappari, Richa Meena, Bhavish Shrimali, Deepin Raval. New Insights 112 min. Theatrical release: May 12, 2022.