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India: Coma, Karma, Korma, Chameleon

26th April 2016

Is it a dream or is it real? With my last taste of Indian cinema experienced over twenty years ago on a night bus to Jaipur, with a Bollywood movie played at a volume that would make Guantanamo Bay seem like a Trappist retreat – expectations were low.

Checking my western privilege at the door and a healthy Indian snack later, Lucia defied expectations. A masala mix of Inception, Total Recall and a hint of Cinema Paradiso, the film focuses on the life and dreams of humble cinema ‘Torch Shiner’ Nikki – or is it the dreams and life of film star Nikhil?

Humble Nikki, loyal to his cinephile, wise employer, takes the drug Lucia with the promise of better sleep and dreams which will feel real. We’re then led on a twisted ride that combines the simple life of Nikki and the glamorous world of actor Nikhil. It happens with astonishing pace, humour and the obligatory music.

Boy seeks girl, celebrity seeks normality. Characters from both lives appear in both plots in both colour and monochrome. A plot that involves pizza, a contract killer and some ‘gap year girls,’ doesn’t lend itself to simple explanation.

The lives and characters of the protagonists start in different worlds and converge as the plot and an occasionally brutal police investigation progress. At times utterly bewildering, clues littered throughout finally make sense and you are left to admire and reflect on a film that shows no signs of having being made on a tiny, crowdsourced budget.

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