Are you keen to watch an ode to the magic of cinema? ‘Road, Movie’ is the subtle answer. Dev Benegal, known for ‘English August’, pays tribute through this new film to the father of modern home cinema: yes sir, the good ol’ moving cinema, capable of taking fantasy, drama and laughter to India’s most remote corners.
Vishnu (Abhay Deol) sees the opportunity to drive an uncle’s old truck across the desert, in quest of anything that takes him far away, towards a life of adventure. During the course of his journey, he constantly strives to find water, both to quench his thirst and in seeking a seaside town as his destination. His travels are punctuated by encounters with those who will become his companions along the way: a child (Mohammed Faisal); a mechanic (Satish Kaushik) and a mysterious gypsy woman (Tannistha Chatterjee). As they travel, they discover that the truck actually carries an eclectic collection of film reels and two old film projectors. Alike Shehrazade in ‘1001 Nights’, their ticket to safety and freedom throughout their trip is to screen the best films they carry to rural audiences in the middle of the Kutch desert or the landscapes of Rajasthan.
The film is Benegal's tribute to great movies that stand the test of time by featuring snippets of Amitabh Bachchan or Dev Anand classics, as well as Guru Dutt’s outstanding ‘Pyaasa’ (and its lively song ‘Sar jo tera chakraye’) or a delightfully funny Charlie Chaplin starrer.
Despite a lukewarm response from the Indian box office, the film is clearly set to be an art house hit and has been appreciated by audiences attending film festivals in Berlin and Toronto. The rhythm and treatment of the film are indeed quite different from run-of-the-mill mass entertainers and therefore audiences should not expect a typically commercial plot. If you are nevertheless looking for a very slow paced and quiet road-trip fairy tale with good performances, a discrete but suitable background score (no item numbers here) and an occasional spoof thrown in here and there, you should certainly give ‘Road, Movie’ a watch.
Director / Writer: Dev Benegal Release Date:5 March 2010 Length: 95 minutes
Cast: Abhay Deol Mohammed Faisal Satish Kaushik Tannishtha Chatterjee