Studio 18, Rs 299
I worry Abhay Deol. My worry for Deol is that in his (so refreshing and necessary) bid to seek out challenging roles in movies that are more cutting-edge and pre-packaged than Karan Johar's ouevre, he may be waylaid into the nightmare world of a contemporary version of 'parallel cinema'. Which is what happened to Deol in Dev Benegal's Road, Movie. No matter the confetti-blurbs of the Berlin, Toronto, Cannes and Tribeca film fests on the cover of this DVD.
The film, even with the power invested in the DVD-watcher's fast forward button in the remote control, is a contorted, twee length of unending nitrate described as a ‘road movie that transcends the genre', but is little else than a Paharganj tourist's filmic version of a spiritual journey that can be watched only while wearing a tie-dye t-shirt during a gap year.
On paper, things look good. We remember Dev Benegal's truly entertaining and against-the-grain film dramatisation of English, August. The perfunctory comma returns; but fails to do with Deol what was done in the earlier film with Rahul Bose — make for a cult classic. Instead, we have Vishnu (Deol), running away from his family hair-oil business by taking his uncle's vintage Chevy truck across Rajasthan-Gujarat, picking up a roadside dhaba chai-boy (Mohammed Faizeal), a rotund auto-mechanic on his way to "the fair next to the sea" (Satish Kaushik) and a banjara woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee).
It could have been a raucous delightful movie — part-Win Wenders' Paris, Texas (another comma-tose film), part-Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye. Instead, it gives the word ‘pretentious' a new lease of life and the likes of Karan Johar something to chuckle about.
If the forced narrative about a history of cinema (villagers are shown Frank Lloyd, Buster Keaton classics by the band of truckers courtesy Vishnu's travelling cinemashow) isn't teeth-gnashing, 'inconsistencies' like the chai-boy mentioning 'Starbucks' literally drive home the point that Road, Movie, with its hyper-colour filters and 'hang-dog charm' tailor-made for foreign jury audiences, gives non-mainstream movie a bad name. If nothing else, Deol deserves better.