Banners: Zee Studios,
Producers: Shareen Mantri Kedia,
Kishor Arora, Zee Studios
Director: Majid Majidi
Cast: Ishaan Khatter, Malavika
Mohanan, Goutam Ghose, GV
Sharada, Dhwani Rajesh, Amruta
Santosh Thakur, Shivam Pujari
Writers: Majid Majidi (story and screenplay), Vishal Bhardwaj (dialogues)
Music: AR Rahman
International filmmakers who make movies about India usually focus on the poverty and despair among the people who live on the margins. This tends to take away from the story and plot. Beyond The Clouds is, no doubt, about a not-so-privileged section of society but it does not dwell on poverty. Instead, the story focuses on the characters and their relationships, making it essentially a story of humanity and hope.
The story is about Aamir, a young drug peddler who is not scared to be on the wrong side of the law to make money. During one of his drug delivery runs, he ends up being chased by the cops. In his effort to escape, he crosses paths with his sister Tara, who works at Mumbai’s Dhobi Ghat.
This meeting of siblings brings to the fore their strained yet emotional relationship. While the two try to work things out between them, a freak incident lands Tara in prison and Aamir is left to find a way to get her out. In the process, the two discover new relationships and a new meaning to their otherwise mundane existence.
Writer-director Majid Majidi tells a beautiful story. Every character that is introduced into the narrative manages to draw you into their world, and before you know it, you are a part of their lives. However, there are a few loopholes in the timeline. For example, while the story is supposed to be unfolding during the Mumbai monsoon with thundershowers in the background, we also see Aamir’s family playing Holi, which falls in March.
The Hindi dialogue by Vishal Bhardwaj is simple and thankfully, stays away from the expletives we are used to hearing in films set in Mumbai slums. The use of Tamil and English is subtle and along with the unspoken moments, it adds to Majidi’s deft storytelling. Anil Mehta’s cinematography manages to capture some of the most beautiful shots of Mumbai. His outdoor shots featuring the washer folk and flamingoes or his indoor shots of the prison and Tara’s house, are a treat to watch. The use of light and shadow in some of the scenes is powerful.
AR Rahman’s music goes well with the film. It is quite a joy to hear his old classic Muqabla, which has been used well. The film, which starts at a quick pace, sort of meanders in the second half. The story ends with unanswered questions but a feeling that there is something hopeful beyond the clouds of despair!
Performance-wise, the film definitely belongs to Ishaan Khatter. The ease with which he gets into the skin of Aamir, his subtle yet powerful expressions and his sense of humour, all make him an actor to watch out for. He also gives us a glimpse of his dancing abilities and manages to impress even in the limited moves that he does. Malavika Mohanan as Tara is effective, though in the dramatic sequences she seems to be trying too hard.
Goutam Ghose has only a few lines to speak, but he manages to use his eyes to express remorse and grief amazingly. His transformation from the wretched Akshi to the apologetic and helpless father touches a nerve. Tannishtha Chatterjee as Tara’s prison inmate is wasted, though the little boy who plays her son, Chotu, is cute. G V Sharada, who plays Akshi’s mother, and the young girls who play his daughters have their innocent and sweet moments. Their scenes with Ishaan Khatter are a treat to watch and bring a smile to your face.
Verdict: Worth a dekho!