Geethu Mohandas / India / 2013 / 103 mins
Indian actor/director Geetu Mohandas’ first feature builds on the success of her previous form in short filmmaking, with a very capable road movie full of knife-edge drama and unease. Mohandas tells of a determined young woman, Kamala (Geetanjali Thapa), from a gentle north-Indian village who embarks on a dangerous mission to find her husband – working away but unheard from in over five months. With little money, she implores the help of shifty-eyed ex-soldier, Nawazuddin (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), to shepherd her and daughter Manya (Manya Gupta) to Delhi.
What unfolds is an unlikely, cryptic relationship between the three characters and exposes the vast divisions in Indian society today: from the rural mountains to the frantic inner-cities awash with poverty and crime. The nervy journey is at times reminiscent of Pablo Giorgelli’s Las Acacias but is far more tonally beautiful, led by quietly mesmerising performances from Thapa and Siddiqui. Lots of questions are left unanswered, such as Nawazuddin’s motives for helping the pair, what has happened to Kamala’s husband and how reflective this is of real-life. Enigma aside, Liar’s Dice is a refreshingly passive road trip which invites us to consider the perils and promises of searching for lost family in India.