Beyond The Clouds
Beyond The Clouds: Lost In Translation
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
The legendary Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi sets his ninth film, Beyond the Clouds in Mumbai. Weaving together tales based predominantly on children and complex human emotions has always been the director’s forte and in this film too, he tells us a story based on the relationship between a brother and his older sister. The film is based on the street-life of the siblings that takes many twists and turns to lead them to places that are terribly dark. In comparison to his past body of work, Majidi’s first Indian film isn’t phenomenal. But it holds enough substance to steer your interest in the right direction every now and then.
Amir, a drug peddler lives the rough and unpredictable street life with his sister Tara in Mumbai. His sister chases many unconventional jobs to make a living. One day, she is accused of attempted murder and is put behind bars. Her alleged victim is hospitalized and if he passes away, the grief-stricken Tara must serve a life sentence in Jail. Having lost his only family to the justice system, Amir makes dark choices as he attempts to get Tara out of trouble. The consequences of these choices and their journey of survival form the crux of the film.
The premise of Beyond the Clouds demonstrates potential. Especially the struggle faced by Tara and Amir in battling their inner demons. The battle their minds wage between dark and light could’ve been much more interesting. Though this complex aspect of the film is intriguing, its treatment is so straight-forward that is doesn’t interest you beyond a point.
The manner in which Majidi’s introduces Amir to the audience in the first scene is quite interesting. He rides around in the bike, delivering drug packages to his clientele. The chaos surrounding this introduction demands your attention. From here on to Tara’s arrest, the screenplay immerses you. But beyond her arrest, the film tends to become increasingly predictable and melodramatic.
Nevertheless, the tactics Majidi uses to highlight the manner in which humanity thrives in most situations is truly moving. The climax sequence will leave you wanting to give the characters another chance at life. But beyond a point, the film lacks the clarity and detailing that made Slumdog Millionaire such a tremendous success. Maybe if Majidi found a way to make the story rooted while also including subtle metaphors instead of taking up the loud and conventional Bollywood treatment, Beyond the Clouds would’ve stood a better chance.
Eventually, every tiny flaw in Beyond The Clouds points fingers at the differing narrative. Whether it is A.R Rahman’s irregular music or the inauthenticity in the way the central characters communicate, everything boils down the loopholes left by the director while conceiving this story. The timeframe where Amir has been presented a chance for redemption is moving. In fact, it’s essence is perfectly in sync with the core. But rest of the bits and pieces of this film lack uniformity in tone. Even though it is understandable that these characters are made to speak English to cater to the universal appeal of the director’s body of work, their dialect looks rather put on because of their polished English. This little aspect strips away the authenticity of the film’s geography.
As Amir, Ishaan Khatter delivers an impressive performance. His contagious energy and portrayal of complex emotions with utmost ease show great promise. As Tara, Malavika Mohanan is raw and uninhibited. But in some places, her acting comes across as loud. Playing Akshi, Gautam Ghose hams his way through most of the scenes.
Anil Mehta’s cinematography captures the crowded streets of Mumbai with utmost realism. His visual storytelling lends some much-needed authenticity to the film. From the grittiness of Mumbai to its timeless charm, you witness everything through the lens of the abled cinematographer.
In the end, you begin to wonder if all that the director tries to say gets lost in translation. His inability to transcend the language barrier in a film that travels deep into the nooks and crannies of Mumbai’s chaotic streets weighs heavily on the film. For a film that is centered on such in-depth emotional complexities of immersive characters, the emotional quotient of Beyond The Clouds runs dry due to its inauthenticity in multiple instances.