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Life Goes On


Stars: Girish Karnad, Om Puri, Sharmila Tagore, Soha Ali Khan, Neerja Nalik, Rez Kempton, Tom Reed, Mukulika Banerjee

Director: Sangeeta Datta

A two-hour gloomfest centring on a wealthy Hindu family living in London, whose beloved matriarch (Tagore) dies from a heart attack at the outset of the film. Seeing that she was the glue that held the family together, it's perhaps not surprising that things fall apart between death and funeral, as the father, a prominent doctor (Karnad) discovers that: his older daughter (Banerjee)'s marriage is under pressure from her white husband's workload; the middle daughter (Nalik) is a lesbian; and the youngest (Ali Khan) is in love with a Muslim. Worse still, she's pregnant.

It's the cue for much gratingly raucous shouting and screaming, before a bemused and battered dad, perhaps not surprisingly, wanders out into the night.

The dramatics are interspersed with idyllic musical interludes, in many of which the late mother sings about 'Remembering me', to the background (and sometimes foreground) of plaintive Indian music.

There are some salient points made here about prejudice and the lasting effects of the 1947 partition of India - 'Don't confuse culture with religion' asserts one character - but they tend to get lost in the general wallow. And, despite the fact that their father has lived in London for 40 years, the girls, looking nothing like sisters, confusingly all have different accents.

It's all meant to be life-affirming but, notwithstanding good performances from Khan, Puri, Karnad and the legendary Tagore - still beautiful in her sixties - it's more than likely to send you home depressed.

David Quinlan

UK/India 2009. UK Distributor: SD Films. Colour.
120 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 08 Mar 2011