Poster for 'Placebo'

A screening of Placebo (96 min., 2014), followed by a Q&A with director Abhay Kumar.

At one of the most prestigious medical schools in India, applicants have less than 0.1 percent chance of getting accepted. Compare that with Harvard, which has an admission rate of 7 percent. So you can safely assume, as the introductory voice-over explains, that the institute is home to some of the most brilliant thinkers in the country. After witnessing an act of severe aggression among several students, filmmaker Abhay Kumar decides to investigate the increasing number of violent incidents on the university campus.  For two years, he closely follows four students. He’s no fly on the wall, that’s for sure. On the contrary, the students are clearly aware of the camera, and Kumar mentions it when he realizes that his presence is undeniably influencing the microcosm he is filming. From the many hours of material, he has edited together a documentary that leaps back and forth in time, providing insight into a remarkable place where the pressure to achieve is unprecedented. Extremely high intelligence is sometimes more of a burden than a blessing, and students are often heartbreakingly lonely.

Co-sponsored by South Asia @NYU, and the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

This event is free and open to the public.