2 stars

Mini Review:

Majid Majidi comes to India and falls for the 'poverty is
beautiful' trap. After that, he simply rolls from one cliche
to another and another until you just shake your head in
despair. Ishan Khattar who makes his debut shows flashes
of talent and is let down by a 70s style poverty porn. And the
other star of the film is the city itself. But that just isn’t
enough to make you want to spend multiplex money.

Main Review:

Majidi just doesn’t seem to get over his 1997 brother and sister
against the world drama called Children Of Heaven. So you have
a brother and sister in Bombay in Beyond The Clouds. And yes,
they’re poor too. That’s cliche number one: if it is India story
dreamt up by a ‘foreign’ director, then poverty needs to be the

The brother and sister are estranged, because she was married
to a drunk and he would beat the brother regularly. The brother
is forced to run away because the sister would not take his side
ever against the husband. Don’t groan yet. This is just the
beginning. The brother is a drug delivery chap, delivering drugs
in a box of mithai, winking at the customers. The drug lord doesn’t
pay him. Of course there’s a police chase through the most
picturesque poverty tourism sites: the dhobi ghat, the fishing
village, and running through pigeons at kabootarkhana so they
fly. If you live in Bombay you laugh at the geographical
impossibility (it’s as implausible like showing the chase beginning
in Trafalgar Square in London, through Central Court in
Wimbledon, on to the C train in New York and ending up on a
camel in the middle of the Sahara desert).

The brother meets sister, and immediately we realise that the
sister is overdoing ‘Where have you been?’ Oh goddess of logic,
tell me, if they were estranged for years how do they recognise
each other? But brother dumps drugs on sister and a creepy
man hides him under a pile of clothes. Sister then takes him

That home is like Urban Outfitters version of poor person’s home.
There’s a kitchen, a sitting area and a bedroom and even a
balcony so the brother can look at the moon and say, ‘I miss
mom’. The sister and the brother then look at the moon sharing
a blanket. And the audience goes, ‘Why in the world would you
share a blanket in Bombay? The lowest temperatures that
Bombay experiences is 12 degrees centigrade (with relative
humidity levels that rarely go down under 60%!)! Ugh!

The creepy guy who helps brother hide under the pile of clothes
attempts to rape the sister, the sister hits the man and gets
arrested for attempted murder. Brother takes care of man
(injured but cannot speak) hoping he’ll come to and tell the truth.
Meanwhile sister goes to women’s jail where the mascot of
poverty, Tannishtha Chatterjee, coughs and dies. It’s a prolonged
death and gives the sister a chance to do the melodramatic,
screechy, ‘I don’t want to die here!’, ‘Get me out of here!’ and
‘Help me, my brother! This is hell!’

The jail inmates as well as the police-women are cliched
characters. But it is made worse because the super talented
Vishal Bhardwaj writes the trite dialog everyone speaks.
‘Mother has gone to heaven and is watching you from there’,
‘Mother is living on the moon in a big house’, and so on, until you
want to throw your shoes at these children of heaven.

The brother is dealing with the injured man’s relatives and weather
that is so manipulative (when the lad is eating at his sisters home,
he realises the family is outside hungry. When he ignores them,
of course it begins to rain and his conscience pushes him to bring
them in and offer them shelter. You facepalm and you facepalm at
the cute things the lad does to win the hearts of the little kids while
hating the father. You want to kill yourself when you see the
neighborhood play Holi (usually in March, and not during the rainy
season) as the lad makes peace with that family, and don’t care
if you don’t understand the old granny who speaks so much Tamil
there should have been subtitles. But Majid Majidi is making a
film in a language he doesn’t understand, so what does he care
if the granny speaks Tamil?

Looks like nobody cared when they made this movie. Except the
talented cinematographer who makes Bombay look beautiful.
And the young lad Ishaan Khattar who makes his debut tries
super hard to look poor, and has flashes of talent in scenes.
Especially his surprise when he discovers a yellow hand print
from the little girl who spills a red colored drink.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Author: Manisha Lakhe

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