Gaganachari | Review
‘Gaganachari’ Review | Written by Rohan Bhattacharya
The world of Indian cinema has had the privilege of being graced with some excellent documentary films over the years. Works like ‘All That Breathes,’ and ‘Writing with Fire’ have received international acclaim, and are regarded by many critics of cinema as some of the finest documentary films of the decade. Despite the rise and celebration of the documentary genre in the world of Indian cinema; we rarely get to see works that attempt to break the chains laid down by an industry that churns creative thoughts and produces the same-old fiction film narratives. Ever heard of a ‘Mockumentary’? The average Indian would start scratching their head at the mere sound of the word. However, filmmaker Arun Chandu thinks that it is about time the country gets a taste of this ‘new genre’ of film making!
To put it plainly, a mockumentary could be called a fake documentary; a fiction film showcased in the typical documentary-style. With ‘Gaganachari,’ Arun Chandu has quite literally taken the genre to an Interstellar level! The plot revolves around the lives of three individuals residing in a dystopian planet Earth. In their world, interstellar-travel and communication is as simple as putting mayonnaise on your morning toast, and humans have already started colonies in other planets around the galaxy. These three gentlemen find themselves in quite a pinch! They are to take care of an alien guest who has forced herself into their average lives. Their story is told by a documentary crew through interviews as our main characters recollect past events, and make decisions that could very easily put their lives at risk.
The entire premise of ‘Gaganachari’ could be summarized quite accurately with the very first scene itself. Two astronauts while working on a space-station, very casually talk about the food they have been eating, while down on Planet Earth the ocean currents seem to have consumed most of our coastal cities. Arun Chandu brings to us a world full of people who have very little regard for the catastrophe that unfolds on the surface of their planet. The rising sea-level and death of man-kind is less important than people eating beef, or liking/disliking sambar for instance.
The characters of Victor, Vibe, and Allen become the faces of the entire human-race. Victor is pretentious, arrogant, and boastful; claiming to have done better for the planet than anyone else. Allen plays the confused man who is trying to find a place for himself in a planet that is on a slow boat to death; he is deprived of attention and love, and tries to grasp every opportunity that might help him prove himself. Vibe on the other hand is ignorant, self-obsessed and uncaring; he would rather party all night long than worry about the state of the planet. To him, being hunted down by an alien on a killing spree is more acceptable not finding a new date to go out with.
The character of the Alien played spectacularly by Anarkali Marikar is perhaps the most intriguing character in the story. Although Arun Chandu has quite brilliantly showcased Mother Earth as separate character in his film, the alien who is from another planet is surprisingly the ‘voiceless’ voice of our planet. It is beautiful how a creature from a different planet opens the eyes of our main characters to the bigger picture.
Besides the hilariously written script, beautiful acting, and the surprisingly harsh criticism of India’s present day political scenario, ‘Gaganachari’ has quite a unique visual aesthetic to it. With a documentary-style shaky camera, unique use of aspect ratios, and a beautifully utilized contrasting color pallet, the cinematographer too has done quite a commendable job. As for Visual Effects, it is clear that Chandu has taken his inspiration form movies like Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ and Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ and has showcased his own interpretation of interstellar space. One could argue that the massive portal floating in the sky is straight out of a video-game, specifically the retro RPG, ‘Chrono Trigger.’ Arun Chandu’s use of tradition Indian Art with a science-fiction twist was in many ways a remarkable device that truly amplified the flow of the narrative.