Indelible Lalita tells the story of a beautiful woman whose resilient spirit survives her body’s transformation by cancer, heart failure, and a dramatic loss of skin pigment. Meditatively flowing between surface and interior, the film follows Lalita as she migrates from Bombay to Paris to Montréal, and becomes completely White along the way. Lalita learns to let go of her body as the sign of her ethnicity and femininity – and ultimately realizes that her body is just a temporary vessel for her spirit.
“I suppose that is the whole process of living… There’s the wear and tear on so many levels, on your body and your psyche. And of course it leaves its indelible mark or its stamp on you.” - Lalita Bharvani
Indelible Lalita tells the story of a woman whose body has been painfully transformed by ovarian cancer, breast cancer, heart failure and a dramatic loss of skin pigment. Lalita Bharvani is beautiful – but her pale, scarred body reads as a record of her difficult life experiences.
There she fell in love with Pierre, a French-Canadian student. After marrying, the couple moved to a working-class suburb of Paris. Neighbors mistook Lalita (her skin still mostly brown) for an Arab, and they mistreated her. Lalita and Pierre left Paris and moved to Montréal.
Despite a happy marriage, Lalita found life in North America lonely. Her solitude manifested itself physically at age 30 when ovarian cancer left her unable to bear children. Meanwhile, the cold air of Montréal accelerated Lalita's pigment loss. Within a year of arriving in Canada, her skin had become totally white.
Now 60, Lalita is fighting breast cancer and heart disease as her mother lives out her last days in India. Through these health crises, Lalita has somehow managed to find the joy in life. She has learned to let go of her body as the expression of her femininity and ethnicity – and, ultimately, as the only vessel for her spirit.
Indelible Lalita poses many questions to the audience: How linked is one’s identity to one’s physical appearance? Is the body somehow imprinted, like a passport getting stamped, by the place where one lives? Can the body be read as a record of all that has transpired in the soul within?
HD video, 71 minutes, 2012
English, Hindi, and French with English subtitles