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Mother Teresa & Me Movie Review: Poignant and completely captivating

Updated on: 05 May,2023 06:00 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Johnson Thomas |

The film is a tale of two women - Mother Teresa, portrayed Swiss actress Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz, and Kavita (Banita Sandhu), a privileged young violinist of Indian origin. The juxtaposition of these two lives is the basis for the film.

Mother Teresa & Me Movie Review: Poignant and completely captivating

Mother Teresa and Me stars Swiss actress Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz and Banita Sandhu in the lead roles

Film: Mother Teresa & Me
Cast: Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz, Banita Sandhu, Deepti Naval, Heer Kaur, Shobu Kapoor, Liza Sadovy, Kevin Mains, Vikram Kochhar, Kevin Mains, Kezia Burrows, Gavi Singh Chera
Director: Kamal Musale
Rating: 3.5/5

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.

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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.

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