The first feature length film made in India was ‘Raja Harishchandra’ in 1913. It isn’t surprising to any Indian to find out that the film was a ‘mythological’: it told stories of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, of ancient kings and curses. The medium of film provided the means, for the first time, for visual spectacles such as Gods flying in air and actors burning on funeral pyres to emerge unscathed. The mythological film was a prominent part of Indian Cinema till the 80’s, when television took over that genre. Tarsem Singh grew up in India, and while his film ‘The Fall’ bears an unmistakeable Bollywood stamp, I could not shake off the thought that its true progenitor is the bollywood mythological.
The film is a freefall into a world of fantasy. A stuntman in Los Angeles of the 1920’s breaks his legs in a fall, and then, while he is in hospital, discovers that his true love has betrayed him. After a failed suicide attempt, he befriends a little Spanish girl in the hospital. Hoping that he can trick her into getting him pills for a second suicide attempt, he begins to tell her a story. The audience now tumbles into the girl’s imagination, and the story unfolds through her eyes.