Zee Studios and Namah Pictures’ Beyond The Clouds (UA) is the story of two siblings.
Amir (Ishaan Khatter) is a drugs carrier, delivering drugs to different places. One day, the police give chase to Amir and his accomplice. The two run for their lives. Amir, who has a packet of white powder with him, reaches the chawl in which his sister lives, hides the packet there and escapes. The sister, Tara (Malavika Mohanan), troubled about his profession, has always been asking him to leave the world of crime. Tara herself has separated from her abusive husband and works for Akshi (Gautam Ghose) who lusts for her. It is later revealed that Tara sells her body to make both ends meet.
Akshi tries to act fresh with Tara the next day when she asks him for the white powder packet which she had handed over to him for safe-keeping. In a fit of rage, Tara hits him so hard on the head with an object that he gets seriously injured. A bleeding Akshi lands in hospital while a weeping Tara is sent to jail. Amir is distraught, even more when he learns that Tara will have to serve life imprisonment if Akshi dies due to the attack by Tara.
It now becomes Amir’s bounden duty to ensure that Akshi gets the best possible medical care. He ends up paying for the medicines of his sister’s tormentor and even giving Akshi’s family, which has come to Bombay from his village, space in his own house.
What happens thereafter? Does Akshi survive or does he die in the hospital? Does Amir succeed in securing Tara’s freedom?
Majid Majidi’s story is both, interesting and engaging. The humane drama touches the heart but its slow pace and realistic atmosphere make it one for the elite audience only. Al though it is the story of the underbelly of Bombay, the style in which it has been written makes it more appealing for the classes in the cities. The ending is not just abrupt but it is also abstract and would leave the viewers confused, making it even more unappealing for the masses.
The screenplay, written by Majid Majidi and Mehran Kashani, is excellent but having said that, it must be added, it would be liked by a section of the audience only. The dilemma of the concerned Amir is beautifully brought out as he finds himself tending to the very man whom he would rather want dead but whose death could spell disaster for his imprisoned sister. The scene in which Amir can’t hold back his emotions and reveals all to Akshi’s mother and kids is absolutely brilliant. Equally excellent are the scenes between Amir and Tara in jail. A couple of chase and action scenes are also wonderful. On the other hand, the film shows so much of poverty and squalor that it depresses the viewers.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s dialogues are weighty, yet simple.
Ishaan Khatter is a big star in the making. His performance is so extraordinary and easy-going that it is difficult to believe, this is his debut film. He has a wonderful screen presence, and acts superbly, that too, with effortless ease. He dances very gracefully. He has a good voice, and his dialogue delivery is lovely. Malavika Mohanan shines in the role of Tara. She does an extremely fine job. She is also natural to the core. Gautam Ghose lends tremendous support as Akshi. GV Sharada plays Akshi’s mother with all the conviction at her command and makes the character quite noteworthy. Dhwani Rajesh is extremely likeable as Akshi’s elder daughter. Baby Amruta Santosh Thakur (as Akshi’s younger daughter) and master Shivam Pujari (as Tara’s little friend in jail) provide very good support. Tannishtha Chatterjee lends excellent support as Tara’s jail partner. Akash (as Amir’s friend, Anil) is natural to the core. Shashank Shende provides decent support as pimp Rahul. Others are effective.
Majid Majidi’s direction is excellent. His shot takings are terrific and his lighting of the shots is remarkable. He has shot the film on real locations, and that gives the film a lot of raw energy. A.R. Rahman’s music score is good but his background score is superb. M.C. Heam’s rap lyrics are fine. Anil Mehta’s cinematography is award-winning. He has been able to capture the emotions of the drama as well as the ambience wonderfully well. Amaar Shetty’s action scenes are just too real. Mansi Dhruv Mehta’s production designing and Planet D’s art direction are splendid. Hassan Hassandoost’s editing is sharp.
On the whole, Beyond The Clouds is a beautifully shot and beautifully made human drama with some sterling performances. But it has limited appeal at the box-office because of the way in which it has been treated. Its difficult English title and lack of recognisable faces will further restrict its commercial chances. The film will do well in select high-end multiplexes of a few cities only. It will, however, win a lot of critical acclaim.