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Movie review: The Pool, starring Venkatesh Chaven

Chris Smith, 12A, 95mins

Chris Smith’s brilliant 1999 documentary American Movie made a hero of a Wisconsin amateur film-maker whose ambition wildly outran his talent. His feature The Pool, though very different in setting and intent, also tells of a young man who dreams of transcending his limited background.

Venkatesh (Venkatesh Chavan) is a country-born hotel chivvy in Panjim, Goa. From his perch in a mango tree he becomes fixated by the sight of a shimmering pool in the walled garden of a rich man’s house.

“The only way you’ll ever get near that pool is by cleaning it,” his diminutive friend Jhangir (Jhangir Badshah) tells him.

Yet Venkatesh offers his services to the house’s owner (Nana Patekar), who’s impressed by his resourcefulness, and later befriends the man’s bookish daughter (Ayesha Mohan).

Smith’s direction builds at a  languid pace, but with an acute eye, catching the texture of India at both ends of the social  spectrum with a wry humour.