Star cast: Abhay Deol, Satish Kaushik, Tannishtha Chatterjee.
Plot: Abhay Deol sets out in a truck and makes friends along the way as he travels the desert region of Rajasthan. The truck has a touring cinema through which he and his mechanic, Satish Kaushik, show movies to the villagers they meet.
What’s Good: The performances of the actors.
What’s Bad: The slow pace of the film, the lack of heroism or mission of the hero.
Verdict: The audience will get bored in Road, Movie.
Loo break: Whenever you please because the pace is so slow that you won’t miss anything.
Studio 18 and August Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Road, Movie (UA) is a road movie about the journey of Vishnu (Abhay Deol) who travels miles in a very old truck which often breaks down along the way. Driving through the desert state of Rajasthan, he first befriends a young boy (Mohammed Faizal) who works as a helper in a roadside tea stall. The boy hitches a ride with him as he wants to go to another village to hunt for a new job. When the truck breaks down for the first time, the boy walks a long distance in the barren land to hunt for a mechanic. He finally gets one, Om (Satish Kaushik), who agrees to repair the truck on the condition that he would then hitch a ride to the village where a fair is being held. Along the way, the three meet a gypsy woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee) who is walking in the scorching heat and has a small pouch of water. She shares the water with the thirsty threesome and also joins them in the truck.
Vishnu uses the touring cinema in the truck to show movies to the villagers when he is in a tight spot. Om helps him in starting the dilapidated projector and, in the process of showing movies in villages, they also make money. Vishnu is first confronted by a difficult policeman (Virendra Saxena) and later, by the water mafia (Yashpal Sharma and group) along the way but manages to save himself, his truck and his travelling friends, thanks to the touring talkies and to the hair-oil bottle he is carrying in cartons to sell at his destination. He finds himself attracted towards his woman passenger and they even get physical. At one stop, Om passes away while enjoying a movie.
Finally, it is time for Vishnu to bid the woman and the boy goodbye.
The story (Dev Benegal) offers hardly anything to the audience in India which is not used to watching such road films. Even the screenplay, penned by Dev Benegal himself, is so slow-moving that it actually tests the audience’s patience. But, perhaps, the biggest problem is that none of the ingredients of a masala film seems to exist in this fare: there is no romance although there is some hint of sex between Vishnu and the woman; drama is minimal; emotions are missing; comedy is of a very different kind, which would be appreciated by a thin minority of the audience; action is conspicuous by its absence. Even a climax in the traditional sense of the word is absent. Frankly, since the hero doesn’t set out on a great mission in the first place, the audience does not experience a feeling of fulfilment in the end, something the public in India is so used to experiencing in every film. In the same sense, there is no heroism of the hero, Vishnu.
The only audience which will find the film worth a watch is the one which likes films of the festival circuit and a section of the fans of Abhay Deol, the hero. Dialogues (Dev Benegal) are natural and witty at places.
Abhay Deol does a fine job and gets into the skin of his character. He is completely in synch with the mood of the film. Satish Kaushik is also just too natural. He endears himself to the audience with his raw audacity. Tannishtha Chatterjee gets limited scope and is good. Mohammed Faizal is cute and supremely confident. Yashpal Sharma leaves a mark. Virendra Saxena is effective.
Director Dev Benegal’s narrative style is just like his script – it holds appeal only for the elite audience. Michael Brook’s background score is okay. Michel Amathieu’s cinematography is nice and so is Yaniv Dabach’s editing.
On the whole, Road, Movie is too dull and dry to make an impact among the audience in India except the classes and some Abhay Deol fans. It will probably find some patronage among the festival circuit audience abroad.