‘CARGO’ IS AS FRESH AS IT IS AUDACIOUS

Rating: 4/5
Director Arati Kadav gives cinema an altogether new genre, creating a brave film that is sure to be remembered for times to come

This is your desi sci-fi film wherein mythology goes into space. Cargo refers to humans as cargos after they have died and talks about afterlife in a modern touch. The setting is robustly modern, including the relatable rakshasas. Never before in Indian cinema had you travelled this road, and now that a path has been paved, it will surely attract more explorers.

Watch the trailer here:

PLOT

It is near future, 2027. Homo Rakshasas- descendants of the mythical demons have entered the space age, and have signed the Rakshas Manushya Peace Treaty. Their Inter Planetary Space Organisation (IPSO) has launched a series of spaceships for the reincarnation of the recently deceased humans. Prahastha (Vikrant Massey) is the commander of one such spaceship Pushpak 634A.

STORY/SCREENPLAY/GENERAL

Without an iota of doubt, hats off to Kadav for the concept. The thought, the idea, the imagery deserve unmatched and unlimited applauds. The trailer was enough to blow your mind away and right when you start watching the film, your head spins even more. Not that anything is confusing, but how things play up on screen is beyond imagination whatsoever.

The philosophical, out of the world (literally) experience questions existentialism by creating a contemporary picture. While the lead character is named after the chief of army of Raavan from the epic Ramayana, there are other things that fuse mythology with the world of future. The rakshasas here behave as humans, but all possess some power of their own.

Yamraj’s buffalo printed on a mug, or the devices used in this spaceship- memory wiping device, healing devices, the entire process of receiving a dead human and making him/her transition to a better place is all done with careful management. The approach of the film hits you like a breeze where what you see on screen is a world only thought of through some exposure to world cinema and of course books.

Cargo, netflix, hindi, film, review, 2020
Director Arati Kadav (image source: mashableindia.com)

The demons undergo mental tussles in their own ways, when Prahastha feels that dead people feel more alive than him or when Yuvishka (Shweta Tripathi) tends to lose her power. Where the film lacks is that it doesn’t transcend beyond this point. Firstly, even while it is philosophical and symbolic in nature, it doesn’t attempt to say anything or make a dialogue, which such a fresh film should have done.

Clearly, the leads have a back story here, which gives them their nature- Prahastha is a little strict and lonely (as he’s in space for 75years now) while Yuvishka is more bubbly and looking forward to her job with enthusiasm. A little insight into their back stories would have been more engaging. The makers should have bothered to create a line of emotions, which are absent as of now. Also, the food for thought is too little and the monotone remains constant with nothing significant happening with its course. The life of rakshasas more dimensions to that part, connecting it more with symbolic meanings of mythology would have worked wonders.

What still remains interesting and keeps you invested in the narrative is the tropes used to convey the story. The food that they eat, the materials they use, their routine, their process, how they interact with their base, what happens when some of the dead make requests to make one last phone call, how busy they get when a big group dies- are all elements woven to make this piece wholesome.

PERFORMANCE

Vikrant Massey is good, brilliant in fact, as always, in the role of an upright commander. Shweta Tripathi too, makes you feel connected to her as the newly arrived assistant who at first annoys her boss.

It is important to also note that since for these characters there is no reference point anywhere, the actors must be lauded all the way more for creating a personality, that may be used as reference point in the future films. It is known that both these actors are powerhouses of talent, proven time and again, and here also, in the restricted spaces of their characters, they hit gold.

Cargo, netflix, review, hindi, film, 2020
Scenes from the film (image source: koimoi.com)

Nandu Madhav is also good, bringing in a little humour in the unidirectional drama.

OTHER TECHNICALITIES

The music comprises of score by Shezan Shaikh and sound design by Anish John. Both these facets are intelligently created and placed within the scheme of narrative points. The sounds of machines and other background sounds- diegetic and non diegetic- are all nicely placed giving you the correct feel.

Cinematography by Kaushal Shah is simple but strong. The colours and frames convey good meaning and bring out the essence of the scene powerfully. In sync in amazing production design by Mayur Sharma who has created a small space with surprising details. The instructions on walls with the analog feel and the careful placement of the machines, their designing, patterns and colours are all very interesting.

Editing by Paramita Ghosh is very good for the flow the film has. The film isn’t dull and this is why editing must be commended to no limits. Just a little less conviction on editing table and the film would have fallen miserably. Since the content remains to walk on the same path with same speed, editing tries its best to keep the film engaging.

Even with flaws and minor setbacks, the film does deserve a watch. Undoubtedly. Entering into a terrain never explored before, the film creates a new avenue for gutsy filmmakers to think of more opportunities in the direction, that too with limited budget and less resources. The film tells you with grace that to create a space film, you do not need extraordinary VFX and mammoth budget. What you need is intelligence and creativity, which this film is overflowing with.

Rochak Saxena

Rochak Saxena a Mass Media Teacher, former journalist at DNA and an ardent lover of Hindi films - literally. The blog derives its name from the popular term ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’, most commonly used in the world of literature and cinema. Meaning to immerse yourself in an unreal world (where you know what you see on screen is fake) with a self-proclaimed/declared belief/wish to consider it real, the willing world becomes magical. It’s the same magic every Friday that drives Rochak to share things in the perspective that it needs to be observed with. Every film is different. And the difference needs to be cherished.

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