When you’re a director like Dev Benegal and you decide to take a break from direction, your hiatus creates quite the drama. The ace director took a break from the movie scene after winning the National Award and creating waves with Split Wide Open. However, he is now back with a bang and banging star cast for his new movie, Road, Movie. What excited me most about the film initially was Abhay Deol, who can resist this Deol for his boyish cute looks and incredibly unique acting style. Next, I was eager to see more of the film because it was being shot in some of the most beautiful parts of India. Thank goodness, we finally have a director who realizes the importance of highlighting the best parts of India instead of flying all the way to the other side of the hemisphere and shoot on snowy mountains or crowded cities. With Tannishta Chatterjee and Satish Kaushik in tow, Road, Movie looked like it was ready to zoom away. Or so we thought…
We are in two different worlds as we set out on a road. The film opens up with Vishnu (Abhay Deol) on the road looking for fresh water which is restricted by local goons while he delivers a truck. And on the way he picks up two hitchhikers, an old man (Satish Kaushik), a vagabond gypsy (Tannishta Chatterjee) and a chai-wallah. What the audiences don’t know is that Vishnu is really running away from joining his father’s incredibly boring oil business. Their lives change as the journey continues.
What works: The incredibly breath-taking visuals; Never has Rajasthan and Kutch looked so beautiful. Interesting, one wonders which genre this film fits into. It works on a parallel level as well as on a commercial level. Thus, Road, Movie is one of the most in-between films of the year. Yes, it would work incredibly at film festivals but with greats like Abhay, Tannishta and Satish, we will get to the performances, this film will bring in some of the mass audiences too. Abhay Deol is simply awesome. He makes Road, Movie watchable. Tannishta works well with him too. Satish Kaushik is his usual apt-self.
What doesn’t work: The plot is incredibly half-baked. For the most part, you are wondering where the film is heading, if anywhere. What the film sets out to do is show the confusion that is still evident in the youth of India. However, what it lands up doing is creating more of a divide. The idea of a person going on a journey is now an over-done plot which has becoming boring. And Road, Movie is just the same. It is filled with stereotypes which have been seen time and time again. Yawn.
Finally, as a director Benegal tries hard but fails to impress this time around. Normally, Benegal’s films tell a tale which is enticing and visually appealing. With Road, Movie, you are left asking for more simply because it doesn’t completely satisfy you as a film. And by the end, you are wondering what on earth just happened? Where did this film start and where on earth did it end? This road hits a dead end if anything.
Road, Movie should be watched simply for the visuals, which I have to reiterate are superb, and also for the performances. Abhay Deol is his amazing self and really is an actor par excellence. One can only hope the film picks up on his back. Otherwise, this road has no sign of ending.