This documentary by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya is an inspiring and detailed insight into the heart of India’s travelling cinemas. The Cinema Travellers introduces many individuals that either run these moving cinemas, or others who take a back seat and help the process from behind the scenes – the upkeep with the equipment and technology.
We first see Mohammed, a simple man just trying to sell cinema tickets so he can send money to his family. He seems to be the bees knees, the big man at the top of the food chain. There’s a bit of arrogance about him in the way he commands his employees – like a king amongst the peasants. Mohammed tries to keep it all together, to fix every little thing that breaks and when the audience is a little lacking in numbers, he strums up the courage of getting the job done by any means necessary.
The next man is Prakash, who is a little older (and wiser) and he’s the complete opposite to Mohammed. He doesn’t care much for storytelling and the fantasy world of film, but rather how it’s created and where it all came from. If you need your cinema projectors repaired, Prakash is the man to go to. He’s humble, kind and even though his shop is rusty to its core, he still smiles at you like nothing else matters in the world.
With both these men you can tell that it’s more than just a job – it’s a livelihood and it’s something they’ve grown to believe in. You see every little detail including the intense way everyone speaks to each other – it comes across as quite cutthroat, but that just might be how they do business.
The concept of the documentary is beautiful but the execution however isn’t – the pace is slow and it just drags. 90 minutes is far too long for what it is. It’s interesting to see the process of a travelling cinema but there’s only so much you can see of the same thing – setting up the projector and screen from one place to another. Although there is no real storyline and it all feels lacklustre and repetitive, the music is joyful as it makes its way through the documentary beautifully. It creates the perfect addition and complements the tone of the story.