I would like to applaud Director Aarti Kadav for attempting a futuristic movie, but Cargo gets mired by a script which has been jammed with too many concepts, notes Moumita Bhattacharjee.
Every time I hear sci-fi in Bollywood, it fills me with dread.
Indians either get an errand boy superhero Krrish or a weird Joker (Yes, we have our own unfortunate version).
If we are lucky enough, an alien from dusra gola will land in India to save the world.
Let's not even talk about spaceships here. The point being, you can't discredit me for approaching the sci-fi and Hindu lore combo Cargo with extreme apprehension.
While the film is a lot calmer than every space Hollywood movie we have ever watched, it sort of fails to present its purpose. It seems like an attempt to prove the Indian film industry can make futuristic films with a much cheaper budget. It's like making a Mangalyaan...but at least it was cheaper and better!
Cargo is set in a year where humans and rakshasas have signed a peace treaty. Pushpak vimaans have been sent into space and manned by demons for the effortless transition of humans to their next birth.
Prahastha (Vikrant Massey) is in charge of one such spaceship where he does his work alone and almost mechanically. He has no company and when the base station talks about sending an assistant, he protests.
But the corporatisation of the whole process makes sure that his protests are ignored and enters the valedictorian at her institute, Yuvishka (Shweta Tripathi). Her job is to assist Prahastha when he inducts the new dead as per the protocol.
Every demon has some power, Yuvishka heals while Prahastha makes things float mid-air. But certain things happen on the spaceship which leads to confusion and some self-discovery.
Before I get into analysing the movie, I would like to applaud Director Aarti Kadav for attempting a futuristic movie. It is fairly evident that the film didn't even have half the budget of the movies I mentioned above, but to convey the feeling of a completely different world within those constraints is brave.
Plus, the movie explores solitude in space for a man who seemed to have made peace with but that could all be a ruse. Loneliness is very rarely explored in our movies, Kadav takes it to space. I feel we indeed have a great story-teller in her.
The latter also turns out to be one of the bummers in the storyline. Cargo is confused about whether to be a futuristic film or a meditative one on loneliness. At times, it gets difficult to place the whole purpose of this film.
I doubt it's the fact that such a film exists in the Indian context. The movie has plenty of concepts that could lend itself to a neatly written plot.
Hindu lore of rakshas, the powers that each of them possesses, reincarnation, bureaucracy in government offices, mental health, but it just fittingly touches upon all this without getting any deeper.
That leaves you exasperated as there's too much happening on screen and you have no clue if they are at all important to the story. Also, the conflict is not explained properly and is left on the audience to figure out. That doesn't seem like a wise move.
You are also burdened with a lot of questions popping up in your head as the movie progresses.
Why do none of the vargos recognise Prahastha when it is repetitively mentioned he is a celebrity on earth?
Why are these dead people so accepting of their fates without any questions? They don't even cry!
Plus, what is the whole deal about calling up a relative when you are already dead? How does that work?
Yuvishka tells Prahastha about a loneliness detective on earth played by TVF's Biswapati Sarkar. But when he lands at their spaceship, there's no recognition on her face.
The pace of the movie threatens to kill your interest in the film. You will be tempted to hit the forward button a couple of times.
The cast obviously makes it watchable.
Vikrant Massey is, of course, brilliant but he doesn't have much to emote apart from grimacing and grunting at times.
Shweta Tripathi not just brightens up Prahastha's world, but the movie too. She is shown as a free spirit with an obsession of documenting her life for social media love. Thankfully, she isn't unnecessarily chirpy for no good reason.
Hansal Mehta and Konkana Sen Sharma's cameos are interesting although I am not sure what exactly Bandish Bandits star Ritwick Bhowmick is trying to show in the film through his cameo.
All in all, Cargo is an excellent attempt in the genre, but gets mired by a script which has been jammed with too many concepts. What is worse is they aren't explored well.