Science fiction is not big in Indian cinema, and whenever it has been attempted, the films have been pretty laughable. Whether it’s a lack of resources or audiences, science fiction is one genre that is noticeably empty in Bollywood. However, Cargo, written and directed by Arati Kadav, is a great attempt in this direction. Not just science fiction, the story delves into the meaning of life and death, something us Indians always have strong opinions on. The film is ambitious in its story and execution, but it has its flaws. If you’re planning to watch this film soon, read this review of Cargo first.
Vikrant Massey plays Prahastha, an astronaut and rakshasa who works with the Post Death Transition Services (PDTS). He and his fellow astronauts on different ships are revered as superheroes because of their powers. The rakshasas in this movie are not evil and don’t come with devilish alter egos. They look just like you and me, and these rakshasas are a regular part of society in this film set in 2027. In his work with the PDTS, Prahastha is required to live and work on a spaceship and help people who die on Earth transition into the next life. The concept may take a while for you to grasp but when you do, it makes you think.
While Prahastha is content in his mechanical way of life, with the occasional sarkaari banter with his ground control officer, the bosses decide to send him an assistant. Enter Shweta Tripathi as Yuvishka, the peppy, young rakshasa with healing powers and a need to vlog everything she does on the spaceship. Prahastha is set in his ways for the past 75 years of working as an astronaut. Yuvishka, on the other hand, is all about practicality and new rules. The perfect reflection of the conflict and eventual balance between the old and the new.
The subtle humour, the different kinds of people coming through as cargo, and moments of spirituality in the film keep you engaged with the story. But the flow of the story is slow and needed better execution. For a film that is quite pathbreaking for Indian cinema, Cargo drags in places and could’ve been cut shorter. If you’re looking for an exciting, sci fi adventure in this film, you’re not going to find it. But if you’re looking for a deeper story about life, death and life after death, this is a good watch.
Watch Cargo on Netflix here.