That it was India’s official entry to the Oscars should make those mad about movies go out of their way to watch The Good Road. If that isn’t motivation enough, think of it as the Gujarati film which upset the makers of The Lunchbox. Having watched both the films, I think it’s a shame that I have to think of Ritesh Batra’s brilliant Hindi movie as ‘offbeat’ only because The Lunchbox happens to be one of those rare Bollywood movies that exhibit a different sensibility.
Gyan Correa’s debut film The Good Road relies heavily on Amitabha Singh’s cinematography. As I have traveled to the remote villages of Rajasthan, views of highways and the interiors of any part of India hold much charm for me. As a fan of everything minimalist, I feel the film breathe through the few dialogues there are. Three stories cross paths in/on The Good Road, and the poor acting doesn’t come in the way of gorgeous shots of the Gujarat highway. Shamji Dhana Kerasia, who plays the truck driver Pappu (and happens to be a truck driver in real life) and his assistant (?) Priyank Upadhyay are the only two in the cast who effortlessly act.
Moments of despair turn to utter desolation in the Rann of Kutch, and Gyan Correa keeps you engrossed in this surreal piece of cinema. Not a minute from this Gujarati film (my first, by the way) is spent getting melodramatic, and even the harsh realities depicted nudge you subtly. Subtlety, yes. This subtlety is what I crave in Indian cinema. This subtlety is what I found missing in The Lunchbox, despite its delicate story and nuanced performances. This subtlety is what The Good Road has in abundance, despite its grim story and incompetent performances.
It’s the unhurried pace at which the story is told and the breathtaking visuals of the rural landscape and all that the movie says by way of saying very little that do it for me. Here’s to more films down the Gujju road.