Can interaction with dead people make anyone feel alive? For the male protagonist of Cargo – a Bollywood futuristic fantasy, that is life. Named after the chief commander of Raavan’s army, Prahashta ( portrayed by Vikrant Massey) is a member of the Homo Rakshasas, the bloodthirsty mythological creatures, who instead of scavenging off humans, have evolved into the job of processing the people who die for reincarnation into recycling their bodies to prepare them for the next life.
The services labeled POST DEATH TRANSISTION SERVICES are performed onboard the Pushpak 634A Space Station.
Prahashta, probably on the job for almost 75 years seems to have embraced a lonely lifestyle with his colleague Nitigya (Nandu Madhav) who interacts with him through a monochromatic screen leading him through their duties.
The fun begins his new colleague, a University topper Yuvishka comes aboard the Ship, and a hilarious clash of the old and the new starts. The scenes “cargo” being the dead humans that arrive at the Ship for cleaning up, memory removal are hilariously directed.
The new generation Yuvisha shakes up the order when she starts vlogging her time onboard the Ship. Prahastha’s resistance to change is so amazingly documented when his stringent ways get in his way of adopting new practices already in place on other Space Ships, including the struggle to resist making training videos of processes to train the next generation of Homo Rakshasas. The struggle between the reincarnation process and the technology the spaceship uses is real and so is the layered resistance of Prahastha to a woman’s presence portrayed very subtly in certain scenes.
The movie is beautifully narrated, the strict processes of the old school Prahastha and the Gen Z newbie Yuvishka (who vlogs for fans the entire time and has healing powers in a torch)
Writer -Director Arati Kadav presents a hilarious screenplay of the expectations of newly dead people ( the newly dead groom trying to call his to-be-wife to tell her that he is now dead, the love dead people have with their phones, things left undone) and the feelings of the two central characters- Yuvishka – newly experiencing the dead & Prahastha, who is numb to emotion by now.
And the International Loneliness Agent props up every now and then on Planet earth, recognizing that not so far in the process of our lives, loneliness will be our biggest epidemic. And we didn’t miss the advertisement of Bakasur the Dentist.
Production Design by Mayur Sharma are great aboard the PDTS Ship. Massy and Tripathi both shine. We love the stories of the dead when they realize that they are dead, the grudges they hold, the meaning they give to things , which now have no meaning, since they be taken through a reset process where all their sorrows, grudges, achievements will be reduced to a data wipe.
This movie premiered at the MAMI- Mumbai International Film Festival last year. It had also been selected at the Austin SXSW this year and had it not been for the pandemic, we would have seen it here on screen.
So glad it found a home with Netflix. Definitely not your regular Bollywood fare, it is a smart, intelligent, satire on life viewed in a paradigm between ultra reality, futurism and imagination. Very Uploadish genre ( if you have watched Upload on Amazon Prime).
We loved it.