‘The Naked Island’ is all about the balance we all need to maintain in life: personal and professional. The story is about a family of four: a man and a wife, and their two children: both boys. They live on an uphill in an island, with farming as their only source of livelihood. But to irrigate their farm, the man and the wife have to sail to a neighboring island to fetch water and carry them on a carrying pole upon their shoulder, everyday. Sailing across is not the only struggle; they have to take it uphill, where their house and farm are. However, the movie has more to show than just struggle; it shows the act of balancing. As they row their boat, they have to make sure that the boat is going in the direction they want to; as they take the buckets of water uphill, they have to take steps carefully and steadily so that the water won’t spill; as they take the water to the farm, they have to make sure they don’t step on the plants and also don’t waste water while irrigating the farm.
‘The Naked Island’ has an in-detail execution of these movements without any dialogues to explain them. If dialogues had to do the story-telling, then one could simply listen to radio.
It is not just the elders who perform the act of balancing; there is also the boys contributing in maintaining a balance in their lives. They prepare food and serve for their parents to have immediately after they are done irrigating the farm. Once they are done with their meal, one son gets ready for school and his mother drops him to a shore, from where he can go to school, as she sails to the neighboring island while her husband waters the farm and takes care of their poultry farm with their other son. They are poor and life is hard on them, but there is no sign of compromise or tiresome on their faces. There is a balanced role that everyone plays, and everyone plays their role with a balance. Having said that, survival is not the only reason for which they balance; they also balance to enjoy their life from time to time. As the parents go fetching water, the sons fish. When they get a big fish, they all go to the town, sell it to a fishmonger, and, with the money, they enjoy a meal in a modern restaurant, buy new clothes, sail in a cruise, and kiss the sunny side of life.
It is not just the luxurious life that they enjoy from time to time. They try and get the best out of whatever they have. During winter, they heat water in a big drum, which can accommodate an adult in it, and they take turn to enjoy a warm bath. With the change in the season, they grow different crops, take them to town, and exchange them for other household requirements. Life’s hard, but life’s good.
Life is not always pleasant, sometimes, some sour moments also come. For them, it comes with one of their sons suffering from fever. The tragedy hits the family as they could not save the boy. That day they mourn, and with the pain and sorrow of losing their son, they spend the night. However, they also have to maintain a balance even with death, to survive. So, the very next day, they resume their normal life. The man and the woman continue to perform their balancing act of carrying their carrying poles on their shoulders, with buckets of water on each end and climbing up the hill, taking firm steps, slowly and steadily, so that they don’t spill water. A balancing act, of survival, to live.