Beyond The Clouds

Motley Melodrama

Celebrated Iranian Majid Majidi’s first film set outside Iran, ‘Beyond the Clouds’, has the master filmmaker capturing the sights and sounds of Mumbai’s slums and shanties, the red-light areas and prison cells – all against the backdrop of poverty and probity.

After their parents’ death in a car crash, Aamir (Ishaan Khatter) is separated from elder sister Taara (Malayalam actress Malavika Mohanan) – halfway through the film, their backstory is conveyed to us via Aamir talking to himself – while the latter ekes out a living as a carrier for a druglord, his elder sibling works for Akshi (Bengali actor and director Gautam Ghosh) at a dhobhi ghat. One day, while being chased by the cops, Aamir is sheltered by Taara under the watchful eyes of Akshi. Taara is sent to prison after she grievously injures Akshi when the latter attempts to sexually exploit her as quid pro quo for letting her brother evade capture.

From this point on, Majidi (the Oscar nominated ‘The Children of Heaven’ 1997 and the controversial 2015 ‘Muhammad: The Messenger of God’) tinges the film with melodrama arising out of two main sub-plots: the incarcerated Taara caring for Chotu, the child of an ailing and feeble inmate (a coughing and wheezing, underutilised Tannishtha Chatterjee);   and Aamir befriending – of his selfish purposes – Akshi’s two young daughters and his mother (the veteran Telugu actress, Sharada).

Silhouettes play an important role in Majidi’s BTC, and along with co-writer Mehran Kashani, showcases Mumbai’s underprivileged, much a la Slumdog Millionaire.

BTC is thematically realistic and visually arresting, and veteran cinematographer Anil Mehta (Lagaan) takes in the city’s fishing villages, Kabutarkhana and Dhobhi Ghat, especially during the opening scenes of the chase, though logically improbable from a discerning observer’s view.

A R Rehman’s background music is in keeping with the tone of the film, though none of the three songs lingers in memory for more than its couple of minutes duration.

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