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Oscar nominated Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi's first Indian venture 'Beyond The Clouds' created quite a buzz ever since its inception. Right from Deepika Padukone giving a look-test to Kangana Ranaut claiming 'she walked out of the film because her role wasn't substantial', the film was in news for various reasons. Of course, everyone's quite curious to know what Majidi has in store for us this time. His films are known to seamlessly combine grime reality and metaphors. In Majidi's films, every cloud has a silver lining. Does he impress with 'Beyond The Clouds'? Here comes the answer.
The film kickstarts with a captivating opening shot where a young boy is seen darting across a flyover and soon the camera follows him into Majidi's wonderland. The boy is Aamir (Ishaan Khatter), a street boy who peddles drugs for living and believes it to be his instant route to becoming stinky rich. Unknown to him, his estranged sister Tara (Malvika Mohanan) is in prostitution due to financial constraints.
Until one fine morning, Aamir finds the cops hots on heels and takes refuge at his sister's workplace and then at her home. The wounds of the past are yet to heal for the estranged siblings. Further things take a drastic turn when Tara is put behind the bars in an attempt to murder a man while retaliating against his rape attempt. The rest of the plot revolves around how the siblings find a family which they always craved for in places where they never expected.
Majid Majidi's films are known for their visual appeal and Beyond The Clouds is no exception. The recurring motiffs in the form of silhouettes and the flirty play of light and shadow add an interesting touch to his story-telling. He pulls you into the underbelly of Mumbai and presents a story of poignant human fiction. To quote James Allen- Circumstances do not make a man, it reveals him to himself.
Beyond The Clouds has some brilliant moments that squeeze your heart. But then they are sparsely scattered. Majidi doesn't focus much on Aamir-Tara's sibling bonding. As a result of this, you never feel the pain of their separation. At several places, the filmmaker doesn't tie the loose ends to let the audience's imagination wild. Does it help? To each his own, is what we think here.
While the first half of Beyond The Clouds is all about building the characters, it's actually post interval that the story comes alive and stirs the emotional chord. Even Majidi couldn't escape from the charms of Bollywood and has used it at many points.
Talking about performances, Ishaan Khatter is a complete show-stealer. Right from the first frame, the young lad keeps you engrossed with his roguish smile, deliciously charming screen presence and commendable acting. As Aamir, he concocts a perfect combination of arrogance of the young age with vulnerability and leaves you mighty impressed. To sum up- 'Bollywood, you better watch out for this new talent.'
In comparison to Ishaan, Malavika Mohanan comes as pale and looks slightly miscast. In a few scenes particularly the break- down ones, the actress goes overboard with her expressions and voice modulations which doesn't click with the film.
Gautam Ghose pulls off his role well despite having few words to mouthe. Veteran South Indian actress GV Sharada is top-class and has several strong moments to offer. The kids Shivam Pujari as Chotu and Amruta Santosh Thakur as Asha are a delight to watch. Tanistha Chatterjee is passable.
Through Majidi's eyes, cinematographer Anil Mehta captures a different side of Mumbai that's grim, real but yet so full of hope. Be it the action sequence which captures the flamingoes or the shot where we see a silhouette of Ishaan's Aamir dancing to Muqabla behind a curtain, Beyond The Clouds has several striking visuals.
AR Rahman's music blends well with Majidi's story-telling. Hassan Hassandoost's editing works fine.
In a nutshell, Beyond The Clouds may not count among Majid Majidi's best works but it has got enough meat to chew upon. This time, his social criticism in the film doesn't exactly reaches its peak. Still it grabs your attention with Ishaan Khatter's fresh talent, Anil Mehta's captivating visuals and the backdrop of 'aamchi Mumbai'. Three stars from my side.