We Are All A Community Of Air

All That Breathes
Cast: Nadeem Shehzad and Mohammad Saud
Director: Shaunak Sen
Composer: Roger Goula
Cinematography: Ben Bernhard, Riju Das and Saumyananda Sahi
Rise Films/Kite-rabbit Films
No Rating but could be PG
Running Length: 92 Minutes 

Who would believe that in the middle of winter a documentary would come along that has such visual content, you just inhale and forget to exhale.  Such is “All That Breathes,” that tells the true story of two Muslim brothers, living in New Delhi, India and what they do to save birds. Not just any kind of bird, but a black kite, a raptor bird with a sharp, curved beck. New Delhi is filled with them, but they, and the people who live below them, have a major problem. Pollution. Director Shaumak Sen and cinematographers Ben Bernhard, Rijo Das and Saumyananda Sahi give the audience a visual treat, plus a lesson in air pollution, New Delhi being such a problem city. Climate change is everywhere.  Also, at the time this film was made, there were anti-Muslim riots in New Delhi. 

The film begins with the camera moving down a darkened street and you see the night coming out, and predominantly rats. Everywhere. They are the low life, while flying above them are the high livers, the kites. This gives us a glimpse of another way of life, where humans share streets with rats, but try to save the kite, which are often fed by humans. As Saud says, “Life itself is kinship. We are all a community of life.” 

 We meet the two brothers, Nadeem and Saud, who were taught by their late mother, to protect life. They live in a middle-class neighborhood, and earn a living by working with soap dispensers. However, their passion is animal rescue and their small organization is called “Wildlife Rescue.” Since 2003, they have helped to heal kites who are in the bird of prey category. You can see that the air quality in New Delhi is so bad that birds actually die in the air and come crashing down anywhere. Nadeem and Saud work out of a basement and, also, have a space on a rooftop. The brothers know the work they are doing is vital, but Nadeem wants to go abroad, and Saud wants to live there. Some grants do help their work. The camera lingers on kites a great deal but there are also oxen, monkeys and wild pigs to photograph in their environment.

Watching this film is both a delight and expose’ of what is happening in air pollution around the world. So many people---so many land animals---so much industry----and who will survive? You watch from afar, but in your world, what is different? If anything? As you watch Nadeem and Saud with their work healing birds (and they have been doing this for 20 years), it is clear they are on a mission. Even the sound track blends in with the photography. An effective piece of work by composer Roger Goula. 

Climate change is, indeed, cruel, and has gone on for millions of years, as the earth revolves around the sun.  It was not noticed until Man came forth and began to see this, moving from place to place to keep warm. In the present time, where messages are sent in mini-seconds, climate change seems to be going fast.  As a matter of fact, we have noticed it only a few thousand years ago. So, is there enough time to save species and even, mankind?  Time waits for no man.


Copyright 2023 Marie Asner