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Too much is never enough, and in Manjula Padmanabhan’s Harvest there’s too much breadth and not enough depth.

The future is a topic that offers a glimmer of hope to the rich and poor. The possibility of a better tomorrow through innovation and invention has attracted audiences to screens, texts and stages since stories have been told. Despite the daydream of liberation offered by new technology and ideas most science fiction is bleak and dystopic. Harvest is no different, for Om Prakash, Parag Gohel, the light at the end of his tunnel has more in common with a flying car approaching at high speed.

New ways to amass wealth are created everyday. In Harvest the line between the “have’s” and “have not’s” is made distinct through the acceptance of our world’s current black market organ trade in to main stream medical practice. Those who have and wish to hold on to life for as long as possible can contract those who do not and exchange a taste of a life absent longing for material wants and receive in return something far more tangible – body parts. So it is that Om finds himself selling his impoverished, Indian body to a rich westerner. Om’s life, and his families is transformed as their poverty is washed away.

Om’s environment shifts from squalor to modern. Even Om’s clothing becomes brand name and he is provided with modern comforts – television, exercise equipment and furniture. His excess doesn’t end there, food is provided in abundance. Unfortunately for Om, the terms of leasing his body don’t just include perks. He’s become important. The watchful eyes of the organ transplant company are on him constantly. He’s lost his privacy, unable to share any type of intimacy without their agents following him. In his room resides a video phone whereby, like Big Brother, the recipient of his organs is able to periodically check in on him.

It’s easy to appreciate what Padmanabhan is trying to accomplish. The dichotomy between rich and poor is timeless and Harvest seems to be beating a dead horse – after collecting all the important parts for transplanting to healthier, richer, horses of course.

Despite creating an interesting vision in to today’s technology from it’s original 1996 script, Harvest is is just representing the guilt of acquiring wealth from a science fiction angle. Which is, to say the least, ironic. Since most theater goers are not impoverished. However, I will gladly save you the guilt. I recommend, instead of purchasing a ticket like the heartless, and greedy westerners we are, that instead we take that money and give it to a charity benefitting the impoverished third world.


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