Cargo Review: Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi Lead Phenomenally Innovative Sci-Fi Hybrid
Cargo Review: Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi etch out characters that are tangible and emotionally engaging. Director Arati Kadav keeps her feet on the ground as she lets her mind fly free. A real gem
Cast: Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi, Nandu Madhav, Konkana Sen Sharma
Director: Arati Kadav
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
The imponderables of life, the finality of death and the tantalizing promise of life after death intermingle in debutante Arati Kadav’s Cargo, a phenomenally innovative sci-fi hybrid of high philosophy, black comedy and emotional wisdom. The subdued execution conceals a crackling, buoyant flow of subliminal ideas that are at once fresh and ‘timeless’. Set in 2027, many decades after the Homo Rakshasas – descendants of the demons of Indian mythology – have entered Space Age and have buried their differences with earthly humans, Cargo, in spirit and substance, is steadfastly homegrown.
The film, streaming on Netflix, overturns the human-demon hierarchy with intent. It presents the rakshasas as prudent, benign creatures who are honest to a fault and take pride in their consistency of purpose. It is humankind that is susceptible to debilitating doubts – both in life and in the aftermath of death.
Cargo gives the effects-heavy genre a vigorously indigenous spin by weaving the notion of reincarnation into a tale that carries us beyond time and space into a domain where concepts derived from age-old spiritual practices are neatly, and meaningfully, dovetailed into flights facilitated by advancements in technology, intergalactic travel and cross-planetary communication.
Nothing that we see in Cargo is remotely derivative. Produced by Kadav, Shlok Sharma, Navin Shetty and Anurag Kashyap, the film is a small, independent effort that relies on innovative camerawork (Kaushal Shah), production design (Mayur Sharma) and soundscape (Anish John), besides, of course, Kadav’s exceptionally intelligent screenplay, to convey a sense of scale that belies its budgetary constraints.
Cargo is as spirited in its assertion of unbridled creativity as it is confident in tiding over the limits of resources to craft a film that is impressive in ambition and scope.
Several of its producers and technicians, besides filmmakers like Hansal Mehta and Somnath Sen, screenplay writer Anjum Rajabali and actor Konkona Sen Sharma (in a crucial tone-altering cameo), pop up on screen in the guise of key characters and for varying lengths of time.