Foreign Oscar Entry Review: The Good Road

Reviews
by Carlos Aguilar
December 12, 2013 3:00 PM
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Gyan Correa's 'The Good Road'

The Good Road, India's Submission for the Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. U.S. : None Yet. Production Company: National Film Development Corporation : Cinemas of India



Mesmerizingly diverse India is a land of immeasurable contrasts, which cultural tapestry is breathtaking and too vast to compile into one single artistic work. Modern and in synch with the global economic competitiveness but also protective of its intricately varied ancestry, the country is a melting pot of religious beliefs, languages, and lifestyles. Hence the fact that it’s almost impossible to summarize what it means to be Indian and to determine what is the accepted national identity that applies to all the distinct fractions of the population. Nonetheless, Gyan Correa’s Gujarati-language feature The Good Road does an outstanding job at integrating people from all walks of Indian’s social stratum into a cohesive and absorbing film that honors such enriching multiculturalism.

Arranged in a multi-linear fashion the converging stories take place along highway 378, which runs near the Rann Dessert. Impertinent 7-year-old Aditya (Keval Katrodia) is a city boy on holiday with his picture-perfect suburban family from Mumbai. While wandering around a roadside store, the boy is unexpectedly left behind by his parents, which sets in motion a triptych road trip that turns into an introspective learning journey for all its participants. Ordered by his morally deviant boss, Pappu (Shamji Dhana Kerasia), a truck driver on his way to complete an illegal operation, is responsible for taking Adi to the nearest diner to wait for his parents. Helped by his suspicious assistant Shaukat (Priyank Upadhyay), the two men now have to accomplish their mission while caring for the irritating child.

At a distant point along the same path, starving and noticeably exhausted, Poonam (Poonam Kesar Singh) is a small girl trying to hitch a ride to her grandmother’s house when she stumbles upon a makeshift brothel in the middle of nowhere. Warned by the owner that she is too young to stay there, Poonam decides to stay long enough to rest and grab some food. Unaware of the sort of business that goes on there, she befriends teenage Rinkle, an experienced young woman who wants to show her the ropes of the trait. Meanwhile, David (Ajay Gehi) and Kiran (Sonali Kulkarni), Adi’s parents, are tormented by guilt and desperately look for him. Aided by police they launch a full-scale search that puts their own lives at risk, and shakes them into realizing the important things that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Linked together by the arid landscape of the Gujarati province, the ensemble cast conveys the unified spirit of he country’s people disregarding their origin or social status. The serendipitous events in their shared journey are a test, and require them to decide whether to take the road of virtue or one of hatred. Initially charged with animosity, Adi’s relationship with Shaukat develops into a genuine friendship. His presence becomes a refreshing cure for Pappu’s apathetic perception of life, the child’s ability for wonderment is reinvigorating for the frayed driver. Simultaneously, David and Kiran find in their parallel quest to find their son, a renewed hope in others. Receiving help from the least expected good Samaritans, they learn a lesson of trust and kindness. Lastly, the other intertwined drifter, Poonam, exemplifies self-respect and loyalty far beyond her age. Collectively the entire cast is effective at playing their respective piece of the puzzle.

This layered film proves that there are far more nuanced visions in the creative field of India that what Bollywood presents to the word. The characters are at a crossroads, physically and emotionally. At this crucial moment in their lives, their differences are irrelevant and they must walk together to seek a brighter future. Just as it is mentioned in Adi’s patriotic song, all of them form part of one multilayered but joined singular vision. Shot with entrancing luminosity The Good Road is a bracingly evocative collage of experiences connected by one road, this road is India.

Read more about all the 76 Best Foreign Language Film Submission for the 2014 Academy Awards


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