Beyond The Clouds 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 hero.
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 home.
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.
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