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IFFI 2017 pays homage to Tom Alter with Ocean Of An Old Man

The slow pace of the film is its strength and also its weakness.

Blessy Chettiar

Veteran actor Tom Alter, who died in September, was remembered at the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Panaji, Goa, with two films. Tom’s son James Alter was invited by Ocean Of An Old Man (2009) director Rajesh Shera. Ocean Of An Old Man was the scheduled film for the homage. Shera, however, wasn’t present.

Aasra, by budding filmmaker Ranjeet Jha, an associate of director Nagesh Kukunoor, was screened as a last-minute addition. Jha told that Aasra was Tom Alter’s last short film and was shot in May, barely five months before his death.

The prolific actor, who remained active till the last, was remembered fondly by son James, a journalist, who said, “It is heartening to see more people for the film than we saw when it actually released in 2009. I have seen it a couple of times, and I hope you like it too.”

Ocean Of An Old Man is about a government school teacher posted on an island in the Andamans which is ravaged by a tsunami. His grief is slowly engulfing him, just as the ocean engulfed his wife, daughter and students.

It is the first film to be shot in the Andaman Islands. The charm of the picturesque location is taken away, as a grieving old man goes through life, trying to locate students who have gone missing.

The camera lingers for long periods on the ocean. The tone of Ocean Of An Old Man is sombre, and it take a while getting used to. There is not much of a story here, and the filmmaker lets you get immersed in the grief of an elderly man. The slow pace of the film is its strength and also its weakness.

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