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‘Cargo’ Movie Review: Coming from India, Vikrant Massey-Shweta Tripathi’s science fiction is capable of making a dent in the cosmos
Navin Shetty, Shlok Sharma, Arati Kadav, Anurag Kashyap
Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi, Nandu Madhav
Bollywood Bubble Rating
Science is one of the most exhilarating things that this universe has been blessed with. It packs mysteries in condensed form in the dark matter, pushes us to explore more and not get satisfied ever and, renders an order to the universe; even the most chaotic systems fall in line with the principals of science. ‘Cargo’ directed by Arati Kadav is a film that engineers a new wormhole in the Indian cinematic universe that leads to new dimensions.
Beaming with the retro sci-fi visuals, ‘Cargo’ deals with the subject of ‘Post Death Transition Service’ (PDTS) which is a result of a peace treaty signed between humans and demons. The program is conducted by the InterPlanetary Space Organization and aims to reincarnate the deceased humans. The film starts off on a very unusual note with the special advertisement of Ramchandra Negi a professional loneliness detective, who kills the loneliness by spending quality time with his clients. But, this acts as a domino tile to push the next one in sequence as we soon see Prahastha (Vikrant Massey), a demon astronaut, all Alone in the Pushpak 634A (a spaceship with the bio – mechanism of a jellyfish) floating through the vastness of the universe. His only contact is the ground control officer, Nitigya. Prahastha has been inside Pushpak for 75 years, working for PDTS. The monotony of his job has made him one with the spaceship, immersed with the blues of loneliness. However, this soon changes as Prahastha’s assistant Yuvishka (Shweta Tripathi), another demon enters Pushpak 634A like sunshine and takes over the blues of Prahastha. The two start off on a rough note, but eventually, their companionship builds over time, and the two grow together in their outlook as they feed off each other’s energy.
While the film stars Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi as leads, Nanu Madhav and Surender Thakur play the supporting characters of Nitigya and Chaitanya, respectively. All four actors dive right into their characters and deliver great performances that are both natural and believable against the backdrop of science fiction. In addition, we also see Shlok Sharma, Biswapati Sarkar, Anjum Rajabali, Konkona Sen Sharma, Hansal Mehta and Ritwik Bhowmik making appearances.
Arati’s writing is fresh, innovative and lades an amazing story which is told through beautiful visuals. The film doesn’t follow the trajectory of a classical plot and that is evident with the Stanley Kubrick-esque treatment of the story. Arati addresses themes like gender discrimination and resistance in a very subtle way. She gives a fine curvature to the arcs of both her lead characters and closes all loops towards the end of the film.
As a director, she is very clear in her head and has a strong grip on all her departments. The film may have been shot in very limited locations due to budget constraints but, never for once you feel claustrophobic. Cinematographer Kaushal Shah makes full use of the physical space and captures it in such a way that the audience has something new to look up to every time, in each frame. Kaushal’s brilliance shines through in tandem with Arati’s vision and the two serve a delectable film. Even the production design and the DI paint a beautiful picture with the technology from the 80s era skillfully merged with the contemporary elements. Arati makes impeccable use of the colour theory; even a slight change in the grain of colour has been effectively used as a part of storytelling. It would be safe to say that visuals take the cake.
Another highlight of the film is the music and sound design. Sagar Desai’s background score amplifies the visuals. Instead of a carpet to carpet score, the music has been used sporadically throughout the length of the film thereby, generating a perfect sense of change in moods.
‘Cargo’ is not just Arati’s debut feature but, is also India’s brave and honest effort in sci-fi in the sense that it dares to experiment by blending the mythological references and science fiction. It also shatters the male dominance in the sci-fi genre and makes a sharp point that all you need to make this film is the unshakeable passion, patience and vision that spreads to the edge of the constantly expanding universe. The canvas of the film may be compact but, Arati’s colours of storytelling render a distinctive depth to this canvas and turn it into a spectacle. Let this film serve as a lesson for aspiring filmmakers on how to extract more from given resources and never let anything bog you down for your dreams are the light that decimates the darkness of self – doubt. ‘Cargo’ is a film that grows on you as time passes and has the trappings of becoming a cult. I am going with 4 stars.
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