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Zero Bridge2008

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  • 3.3
A truly independent film of integrity and offhand grace, ZERO BRIDGE tells the deeply affecting tale of a student and small-time criminal in Kashmir who develops a crush on an older, college-educated woman. Dilawar (Mohamed Imran Tapa) is a rebellious seventeen-year-old Kashmiri boy who lives on the outskirts of Srinagar city with his strict uncle. Desperate to leave town, he looks to raise money any way he can, from doing classmates' homework to picking pockets in the city's markets. While on an errand, he meets Bani (Taniya Khan), a bright, beautiful woman who had recently finished her studies in America. As their friendship grows, Dilawar is desperate to hide his crimes as well as his growing affection for her. Once the truth comes out, it causes havoc in their relationship and threatens both of their futures. Tariq Tapa's first feature is a small movie with a big heart, investigating issues of class and the mysteries of love with an equal measure of craft and compassion.

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"Tariq Tapa’s debut feature shows the young Kashmiri-American as a filmmaker of enormous promise and precocious maturity." - Ella Taylor, the Village Voice

Member Reviews (1)

Well-acted and enlivened by a strong sense of place, Tariq Tapa's "Zero Bridge" suffers from the banality of its cynical teen protagonist, whose difficult family circumstances, evident intelligence, and sharp survival instinct somehow fail to make him especially poignant, in view of his manipulative criminality. There's a genuine spark between him and the shy, bright, more sophisticated clerk he meets--her eyes radiate curiosity and delicate humor--but the pair never get to know each other well, and the growing sensitivity their relationship evokes in him speaks more to their common desperation than to a broader maturation process or a clearly deepened capacity to care.

The film is worth watching for its almost offhand depiction of the brutality of rigid, hierarchical gender and family roles, but for a more successful offering in the coming-of-age-amidst-traditionalism genre, one might try Majid Majidi's "Baran" (2001), saturated by wonder and tenderness where "Zero Bridge" nearly drowns in the coarseness its surly hero barely begins to question. In fact, the two films, which cover similar themes of economic hardship and oppressive social mores, complement one another well by each revealing the limitations of the other. Despite its more compelling navigation of tone and a more satisfying, well-paced narrative arc, "Baran" features a young female character that, while deeply sympathetic, is defined almost entirely by subservience via her gender and immigration status. Tapa's film lacks the emotional richness of Majidi's, but it at least features two vivid, distinct characters. They engage in tentative, vulnerable conversations that are more affecting than the film as a whole.