The Good Road
Director: Gyan Correa
Cast: Rajesh Gehi, Sonali Kulkarni, Keval Katrodia
When a regional film gets selected as the Indian entry for the Oscars, (and that too after toppling a strong contender backed by Bollywood heavyweights!), one is bound to be curious. From the time Gyan Correa’s Gujarati film ‘The Good Road’ was announced as the official Indian entry for the Oscars, many celebrities pitched in their reactions. Most of them claimed not to have seen the film and still said that The Lunchbox would have made a better candidate. Their microblogs-sorry ‘tweets’ received a lot of publicity but the actual selection hardly got any.
Rather than relying on these third-party opinions, I decided to check out myself whether ‘The Good Road’ was that good or for that matter any good! A kind soul had posted the whole movie on Youtube and I had no trouble finding it. So what were my impressions?
What’s the plot?
A. A truck-driver and a cleaner carrying some contraband stuff in their truck; an assignment for a local thug.
B. A Mumbai-based couple going on a holiday, with their eight-year old kid.
C. An orphan eight-year girl, coming from Mumbai and going to live with her grandma.
D. A dance-drama company of young girls, set up in the middle of nowhere, run by a middle-aged bearded man and functioning as a highway brothel!
The Good Road is a story about what happens when points A and B and points C and D collide with each other in time, space and person!
So the holidaying couple accidentally leaves behind their kid, who then gets picked up by the truck-driver. The orphan girl is left midway by her carriage and ends up reaching the place set up by the dance-drama troupe.
What is in store for those two innocent kids, who have inadvertently got into contact of people involved in nefarious activities? Will their innocence be robbed forever?
· Gyan Correa has an eye for a good cinematic frame and the film is visually arresting for the way it captures lights, shades, colors, landscapes and people on celluloid.
· The central theme of ‘There is an innate goodness in everyone ’ is laudable.
· It manages to show a very different slice of life.
· The film has a two-line plot at best.
· It practically shuns dialogue and relies too much on visuals. Moreover the conversations, (whenever they are there between the interminable pauses!) are filled with expletives. That’s the way of depicting ‘raw reality’ of roadway lives!
· It moves at a snail’s pace, which kills viewer’s interest.
· The characters and situations remain sketchy and don’t gel to create an emotional impact.
· The performances are average and some characters hardly show any expression on their face!
The Good Road is afflicted with all the maladies of a typical parallel film made with an eye for the film festivals. Because of its lingering, lumbering nature, it has very little to interest or enthuse a common viewer. Its core theme never comes across strongly or coherently. Besides its visual appeal, there is hardly any other thing to appreciate. Perhaps it is a film made for and understood by few enlightened souls!
In my mind, when it comes to head-to-head comparison between The Good Road and The Lunchbox, the latter easily outscores the former. Why the Oscar entry nomination committee felt otherwise is a question difficult to answer. I don’t think I would change my opinion even if their surprise selection wins an unlikely Oscar in the foreign films category!