Fabled Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi makes his debut as a director in Indian cinema by helming the Hindi film, Beyond The Clouds. The film stars debutantes Ishaan Khatter and Malavika Mohanan while Anil Mehta handles the cinematography and the Academy Award-winning AR Rahman composes and produces the music.
Some of us may be aware of Majidi's Iranian films, that have set benchmarks in dealing with various themes and winning numerous awards and Beyond The Clouds is made in a typical Majidi-esque fashion. After Children of Heaven (1997), Majidi, yet again brushes upon the relationship between a brother and a sister in this film, but how good is the end product? Read ahead to find out!
The film rides on the two lead characters Amir (Ishaan) and his sister Tara (Malavika). How certain circumstances land them in a fix, and how they're going to be of help to each other forms the crux of the story. The characters are defined very well and there is a character arc that is very clearly visible with the transformations that they go through. Majidi has beautifully shown the different faces of a human being through the different characters he has etched in this film. Some niceties of life are also dealt with, very delicately. A lot of layers are woven into the character sketch and screenplay as it looks to address something more lovely and lively than the story itself. A ray of hope persists in all the different tangents that the story takes.
A point to be noted here is that Beyond The Clouds has an intermission point only because of the fact that it is an Indian language film. The story is not treated with an intermission block, but like an international film that runs for two hours straight. It wouldn't do justice to the writing if we judge the film by splitting it into two halves.
Ishaan Khatter makes an exquisite debut as his performance is very vibrant. His skills seem to be so sharp that it doesn't feel like his debut. His character goes through a wide range of emotions, and he carries them all with ease. Malavika Mohanan also shines in her introductory outing as she plays her part neatly. The depiction of the relationship between the siblings is written in a very artsy way, and it looks pleasing when translated on the screen.
Majidi's collaboration with cinematographer Anil Mehta weaves magnificence as there are frames that speak the words that dialogues don't. Time and again, throughout the film, they provide us with some beautiful visual storytelling using shadows and silhouettes. (Watch out for an interesting reference to Rahman's Mukkala Mukkabla song!). Rahman proves his expertise in scoring the background music, as he elevates the experience of being in Majidi's world. There are some moments in the film where music is not required to convey an emotion, and ARR lets them stay silent, which again, proves his intelligence.
The director slips in the hope of victory of humanity amidst pain, betrayal, lust and wrong-doing. A sense of redemption and the dream of liberation is also depicted very elegantly. Every character hopes for a 'Rocketing future' and when we are able to associate ourselves with their pain, we will start connecting to the core of the film.
Like Majidi's previous works, this film also carries 'hope' on its shoulders, and ends on a similar note. Whether this film will stand against the mainstream Indian audience, is a question that is debatable. On the whole, Beyond The Clouds is a neatly knit film but may seem to fall short of Majidi's previous creations.