The award-winning director of Chauranga, Bikas Ranjan Mishra, who recently made his digital debut with an adaptation of Badal Sircar's classic Bengali play Pagla Ghoda, is coming out with his second web film, titled A Guy in the Sky.
And, like Pagla Ghoda, it has been produced by CinePlay — the brainchild of actors Nandita Das and Subodh Maskara that endeavours to present timeless stories in the digitally-immersive avatar of cinema. A tongue-in-cheek satire on the current political climate in India, Guy in the Sky will be streaming on HotStar from 13June onward. It has been inspired by Chandrashekhara Kambara's Kannada play titled Harakeya Kuri.
'Guy in the Sky' is not just a satire on India's current political climate but is also a careful examination of the modern middle-class couple that highlights the superficial value system they adhere to.
Guy in the Sky revolves around three characters — an urban middle-class couple and an uninvited guest who rudely intrudes into their house. It opens with Jean Luc Godard's famous saying: "All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl." The film stars Tannishtha Chatterjee (Unindian, Angry Indian Goddesses, Parched), Maanvi Gagroo (TVF Pitchers/Tripling), and Sunny Hinduja (Ballad of Rustom). We are introduced to the couple at the beginning of the first act and, at first, everything looks picture-perfect. We have a caring husband who's preparing breakfast for his wife. The wife, who is organising a protest march against a popular political leader, is waiting eagerly for the husband at the breakfast table to tell him about the brilliant idea she has for her profile picture. She wants all her friends to use the same picture along with the hashtag "#NetajiShameShame". She then asks her husband to change his profile pic as well but he seems reluctant. When she insists, he explains that it could lead to him being trolled on social media. This leads to a heated argument after which the wife leaves for the protest march.
The husband gets back to his work but is unable to concentrate because of the loud noises coming from outside. Apparently, the source of the noise is a programme organised in honour of the same Netaji against whom his wife is organising the protest march. Along with loud bhajans, we get to hear a voice on the loudspeaker constantly humming jingles in Netaji's honour with lyrics such as, "ABCDEFG... NETAJI NETAJI... 2G 3G 4G... NETAJI NETAJI."
Dealing with a subject material such as this is akin to walking on thin ice but Mishra has packaged it so cleverly that the mockery is subtle.
Soon an uninvited guest enters the picture, taking the couple's life by storm. Certain developments take place and the wife, to her great shock, ends up learning that her husband is actually a great admirer of Netaji. Guy in the Sky is not just a satire on India's current political climate but is also a careful examination of the modern middle-class couple that highlights the superficial value system they adhere to and the materialistic pursuits they chase. It is also a reminder of our alarming over-dependence on social media.
Overall, Mishra's film makes for an effective satire that entertains while simultaneously making us think. The pacing is brilliant and the tension unrelenting, thanks to the director's approach of including several long continuous takes. Credit also goes to the three actors, Hinduja, Chatterjee, and Gagroo, in that order. Dealing with a subject material such as this is akin to walking on thin ice but Mishra has packaged it so cleverly that the mockery is subtle. For the discerning viewer, Guy in the Sky can prove to be much richer at the sub-textual level. As we continue to debate free speech, Guy in the Sky shows us the way forward.
A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.