Cargo Movie Review: Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi pilot this creative yet flawed sci-fi flick with ease

Cargo hits Netflix today. The Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi starrer is set in the future. The film blends the concept of rakshas from Indian mythology and gives it a sci-fi spin to it. While the premise is creative, the movie has its share of hiccups.
Cargo Movie Review: Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi pilot this creative yet flawed sci-fi flick with easeCargo Movie Review: Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi pilot this creative yet flawed sci-fi flick with ease
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Movie name: Cargo

Cargo Cast: Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi, Nandu Madhav, Konkona Sen Sharma.

Cargo Director: Arati Kadav

Cargo Stars: 3/5

The first time I watched the trailer of Cargo, I was intrigued by the amalgamation of "rakshas" and sci-fi. It felt like Brad Pitt's Roy McBride from Ad Astra accidentally bumped into Yamraj. Bizarre, right? But turns out, it isn't all that bad a blend. Cargo features Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi in the lead. After causing a buzz at the SXSW Film Festival, the movie debuts on Netflix today. The indie movie directed by debutant director Arati Kadav revolves around a lonely space boy who sees dead people. Well, not in a scary way!

Vikrant essays the role of Prahastha, a lonely Rakshas aka demon, responsible to "transit" deceased people into their afterlife. For decades, he performed his job with perfection. Prahastha grew comfortable with his life in space, digitally interacting with bosses at the basecamp who would present him with a list of "cargo" that need to be transited and float in his Pushpak 634A. From helping a magician, which felt like a quirky nod to renowned magician P. C. Sorcar, to homing a detective while the memory-erasing equipment had a fault, his cargos in transit had him meet the quirkiest of beings. However, his comfortable little air bubble loses gravity when Yuvishka, played by Shweta, walks into the spaceship. 

She joined him in Pushpak 634A as an assistant who has the power to heal. While the duo starts off on a wrong foot, he eventually witnesses her ability to heal souls which helps the transit process faster. Together they transit a young lad who meets his death when the lift he stepped into falls, a group of wedding guests who die in a tragic accident and many more. Through the process, Arati delivers life lessons while unfolding the mysterious Prahastha and telling Yuvishka's story.

Cargo is a refreshing take on the traditional sci-fi movies we are accustomed to. While flashes of Gravity, Ad Astra, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Interstellar cross your mind while watching the movie, Arati adds an interesting Indian twist to it. From revamping the image of rakshas to poking fun at the heaven and hell narrative, Cargo works well on the creativity level. Arati creates an almost believable world.

To add a cherry on the cake, she opts to tackle the complex subject with simple tools. Understanding that the cause of death of each supporting character was merely a catalyst, she chooses basic mediums of death. While we witness an old man dying after falling off from a rickety flight of stairs, another passes away in a road accident while someone chokes on food and drops dead. The approach kept the movie from taking a dark turn. But unfortunately, the movie feels too light. Once you learn the tricks of the "transit", the movie loses a sense of gravity and merely floats mid-air, disconnecting the viewer. While the on-screen duo struggle with their inner turmoil, their fight doesn't fully come through.

The character developments are vague. Why did Arati set Prashastha as a demon? Just because he needs to survive all those years and defy the rules of aging? His past is limited to just that one woman he keeps writing to? The premise does get shaky and convenient after a point. This impacts the performances as well. Individually, Vikrant and Shweta keep this ship together. Shweta adds another feather to her cap of great performances with her portrayal of Yuvishka. She owns the role and you find yourself invested in her character. As for Vikrant, he has time and again proved that he's a fine performer and with Cargo, he reminds us just that.

But the lack of depth impacts on Vikrant and Shweta chemistry. There are scenes when you feel they are disconnected. Also, the narrative of the two characters kicks off indicating a possible love story unfolding. When the narrative takes a hit, their connection transforms into a professional relationship leaving the viewers high and dry. It felt like Arati wanted to add a romantic twist but changed her mind midway.

Another bummer for me was the whole set up. Understandably that it was a movie by a debutant but if you are setting up a movie in the future and in the space, it did feel a little caricaturish. While it was ignorable initially, it was hard to stop the voice in my head pointing out the outdated setup. Having said all this, Cargo presents a great example of how to adapt the popular outer space theme from the West. 

Bottom Line: Cargo is endearing with heartwarming performances and a creative mind at the heart. Watch it to see what a quirky mind Arati has! 

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