What happens after you die? Many films and books discuss this question. The after life is a hotly debated topic among people of faith everywhere. Arati Kadav’s 2019 film Cargo explores many themes of life, death, and questions the impermanent of things and reflects on what is eternal. Excellent writing and strong performances makes Cargo a delightful film about isolation and moving forward.
The film opens with a dramatic shot of a spacecraft while music swells and it’s very reminiscent of any Star Trek opening. Quirky and humorous, the story of Prahastha unravels. Prahastha, an astronaut who works for Post Transition Death Services. He is tasked with the important job taking the dead from Earth, erasing their memories, and returning them to Earth to start new lives. He has been alone for a long time so the news of an assistant rattles him.
Yuvishka is a star student and astronaut, who follows procedures based on the new manual while Prahastha’s ways are a bit outdated. Overall, she wants to learn from him, but he is a reluctant teacher. Eventually, a friendship is formed and Prahastha now has someone to connect with. As a whole, the film is light-hearted, but there is a depth to it. Many philosophical questions are pondered and the isolation of Prahastha and Yuvishka’s situation will resonate with current audiences in this time of social isolation.
Kadav’s directing is stylish and cinematic, befitting of a “high-tech fable.” There are beautiful shots of the spacecraft as it crosses in front of the sun. The scope of the inside of the ship is seen and Prahastha’s loneliness is magnified in the color scheme and size of the carrier. Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi, and Nandu Madhav give brilliant performances, working as a team as they navigate their unusual situations.
Stunning directing, writing, and great performances bring this sometimes melancholy, but always sincere film together. Magical and thought provoking, Cargo is a delightful film that will leave you thinking about all the possibilities.
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