Verdict: Not a typical ‘stoner’ film; one that the youth can connect with.
Written and directed by Agneya Singh, this 2014 film has made its way to 31 film festivals, with 25 nominations, and won 10 awards along the way. Now, in July 2016, it has finally released across theatres in India. Let’s see if it will manage to get the same acclaim at home, like it did at the festivals.
The film is based on four college students who travel through the Himalayas in pursuit of a mythical form of hash called M Cream (referred to as Malana cream). The good thing about the film is that the focus is not on actually finding it, but on all the other events during the journey instead, as they get higher (and higher). The characters are Figs/Figaro (Imaad Shah), Jay/Jayshree Bose (Ira Dubey), Niz (Raaghav Chanana) and Maggie (Auritra Ghosh). Figs is a typical stoner, who also drinks (from the bottle) all the time. His best friend is party girl Maggie, who is dating photographer Niz. Their good friend is Jay who is an activist and idealist.
This film has everything that you’d expect – drugs, music, sex. As mentioned earlier, there’re many events that take place along the way, as they get higher (and higher) going deeper into the hills. These happenings include meeting Tibetan locals, ‘chilling’ with hippies, drinking sessions, staying with villagers, supporting a cause, a rave and an LSD trip as well. The script covers pretty much everything you could experience on an adventurous road trip through the mountains.
The film depicts the promiscuous nature of some of today’s youth, their decadent lifestyles and also the confused and often contradictory feelings they have about certain things or people. It also particularly explores the "myriad realities of rebellion", touching upon politics and freedom. It is the fairly accurate depictions that make the film a fine showcase of culture and lifestyle, especially in local terms. The film passes on certain messages without being too preachy about them.
It has got a sufficient share of humor, thanks to Imaad’s character. Imaad stands out with his effortless performance (his father, theater legend Naseeruddin Shah must be proud). Ira also delivers perfectly in most scenes (daughter of another theater expert, Lillete Dubey). While this was perhaps expected of them, all supporting actors do a good job too, whether it’s the friends or even the locals. Composed by Studio Fuzz, the film’s soundtrack is fresh and diverse, since it switches between genres like rock, folk and trance.
While the film is quite predictable, it still manages to be just about interesting enough and the pace is well balanced, too. At times some scenes might feel pointless and boring. The film has certainly done well to change the opinions of foreigners about India, owing to its genuine portrayals of the country’s youth. Perhaps the best aspect of the film is that it’s a visual treat, with all its scenic shots of the Himalayas. These are only accentuated by good cinematography.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Watch it for a good trip, with serene settings and great performances on offer.