Iranian film director Majid Majidi has brought the essence of his incredible filmmaking to a Hindi film with Beyond the Clouds. Describing the film, the director said, “This is the first feature film I have made out of my country, an experience which I waited years to happen. Beyond the Clouds is an extension of my cinematic beliefs, the roots of which lie in human values, love, friendship and family bonding.” Beyond the Clouds, is certainly that but the path to get there is wrought with tragedy, anger and pain.
Releasing worldwide on April 20th, the film introduces Ishaan Khatter and Malavika Mohanan in unbelievable performances. The cast also includes Gautam Ghose, GV Sharada, Dhwani Rajesh, Amruta Santosh Thakur, and Shivam Puj.
Set in Mumbai, the drama tells the story of Amir and Tara, two siblings that meet again after many years. Unfortunately, an action by Amir starts the unraveling of their lives. When on the run from the cops after a drug bust, Amir, a 19-year-old peddler escapes meanwhile his estranged sister Tara lands in jail while protecting herself. However, this catastrophic incident turns serendipitous for them. Their entire lives have been clouded by despair but unexpectedly the light shines on them as they find some happiness, family and love in the dark. The film highlights the many facets of India intertwined with celebration of love and family!
To set the scene more watch this trailer
The film is a masterpiece in storytelling, in production, in cinematography, in performances, in music, in everything that makes a film brilliant. The director has brought this all together to make a film that you enter into and experience with the characters, it is not as if you are watching the characters stories unfold… you are there. That is one of the most incredible, devastating and even at times uplifting parts of the movie because we are there in Mumbai in their lives, in the hospital, in the house, in the jail, and it is phenomenal.
The cinematography by Anil Mehta has to be mentioned. From the chases through the streets and alleys, to the train, to the jail, to the quiet moments in the apartment, to the hospital room, so much of the feeling of the scene is captured in how it is shot. It is, again, as if you were there with them. You are there on the streets walking along, you are running, you are playing in the house, you are dancing in the garage, you are crying in the jail, you are alone – you are there inside the story, not outside. Shadows and light, darkness and color it is all perfect. It never feels forced. Sometimes shots can be what I like to call “artsy” but there was never a moment like that in Beyond the Clouds. Even if there were interesting camera angles, every shot was full of truth and that made the film even more.
Also the sound design has to be mentioned because I really noticed it in this film. From the doors shutting in the jail, or the truck door closing, the birds flying, the noise of the streets and even in the simple moments this all was another integral aspect of the film that brought you even more into this world.
The entire cast is superb. Gautam Ghose as Akshi had many scenes were he could not talk but you still felt his regret. Jhumpa played by GV Sharada spoke so much with her eyes and her being it was incredible. Though only present for some moments, Tannishtha Chatterjee once again is brilliant. The young actors blew me away; I don’t know how those performances were brought out of them but I applaud each and everyone one of them.
Malavika Mohanan as Tara was outstanding. She played the lighter scenes wonderfully but then she hit you hard and had so much feeling coming out of her eyes it made you cry. Her incredible breakdown scenes, though harsh and hard to watch were so true. She hit every note from the “happier” times, to the devastated, to the light of love for Chotu perfectly.
There has never been to my knowledge a debut performance like Ishaan Khatter’s in this film. To take on a role like this, where the range of emotions he has to convey is pretty much every feeling you can think of except perhaps romantic love. From the cocky kid, to the angry man, to sadness, to utter devastation, to happy, to fun, to again the overwhelming pain, and also the caring… he was all that and more. He feels and expresses through his body, mind, spirit, eyes and movement and we feel everything. So many quiet moments that you knew exactly what Amir was thinking and feeling. So many moments of wanting to yell at him, even give him a slap but then hug him and take his pain away. This is one of the finest performances I have ever seen by any actor in any film. If this is what he can do in his first film, I cannot wait to see what he will do in the coming years. Bravo Mr. Khatter, Bravo!
There are so many symbolic moments that you’re not exactly sure what they mean but they really shine out and stay with you even after the film is over. The moon, the hand print, Akshi trying to talk, the birds, coloring, the ring, the dance behind curtain, the shadow animals and even more, that all makes the movie even more special and moving.
One of the most interesting things about the film is the music by AR Rahman. He does have Indian beats and flavors in some of his songs that are perfect, but then he added something that really was masterful. He composed this series of gorgeous orchestral instrumentals that was a juxtaposition to the scene, but it played in the background and made it feel even more melancholy or sharp or angry or hopeful… it should not have worked but it did. It was a masterstroke to use that music within the film.
There are some moments that are not played out well, that don’t feel right, story arcs that go on a bit to long but that is all swept away by the complete film. You notice them, but then you are moved on to another scene that astounds you and it is forgotten.
This breathtaking film will leave you stunned, moved, angry, happy, in tears and oh so hoping that the minutes of joy we have seen will finally be the last act for these characters. The film does end without a final conclusion but I chose to believe that the light from Beyond the Clouds stays and that even if the screen goes dark their lives do not. I could go on and on about this film. It devastated me, but it also was so full of life, real life – full of as Mr. Majidi said ‘human values, love, friendship and family bonding’ that I honor him for making it.
I highly, highly recommend you see this film! It is movie brilliance in all its forms!