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One Mustard Seed preview: Exploring death and the idea of dying


National Award-winning filmmaker Aparna Sanyal’s documentary begins with a beautiful story that frames our inability to accept death.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

How would you like to die? An odd question at first, but one that all of us have thought about at some point in our lives. Death is an inevitable conclusion to our lives, yet we have a contentious relationship with death, often choosing to ignore it till it is too late. The film begins with a beautiful story that frames our inability to accept death.

National Award-winning filmmaker Aparna Sanyal’s documentary reflects upon these questions as it delves into our discomfort with the idea of dying and offers responses of various people as they dealt with death.

It examines ways in which healthy people are irrevocably changed towards the end of their lives, as they jostle with some life-threatening disease or the other, making them pale shadows of who they once were.

The film wonders if the process of dying can become meaningful and if embracing our own mortality might offer the key to a more fulfilling life. Interestingly, One Mustard Seed offers the point of view of doctors and medical practitioners, people who are ordinarily left out of conversations about death, often regarded as being mere functionaries.

There are several stories about the mustard seed and its symbolism. In the Bible, The Parable of the Mustard Seed goes, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches."  

Sanyal’s film takes its cue from the Buddhist story, Kisa Gotami and the Mustard seed, to look at ways in which thinking about death can go beyond just that and extend itself into becoming meaningful efforts in providing comfort to people whose end is near.

Her other films include Tedhi Lakeer: The Crooked Line, A Drop Of Sunshine, A Land, Strangely Familiar, Shunyata: When Kathak Met Cham, Shovana And The Monks who won the Grammy.

One Mustard Seed will be screened at the Open Frame Film Festival 2018 at the India International Centre, New Delhi, on 16 September at 5.30 pm.

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Open Frame Film Festival