Cast: Imaad Shah, Ira Dubey, Auritra Ghosh, Raaghav Chanana
Direction: Agneya Singh
It is a film about a gang of four young kids; Figs, Maggie, Jay and Niz; and their road trip and the myriad adventures they go… no, stop. They go through nothing. They have no adventure. What they do is smoke pot, have acid, and then go out looking for pot that is as good as acid, called M Cream or Malala Cream. The thing with road trip films is that when people get into vibrant, physical adventures, all that makes for good visual cinema. However, visually, a bunch of guys smoking up gives nothing. The bare minimum a scene about people getting high can give you is – a) People being stupid when they are high, and thus comedy or b) The world, all colourful, through their eyes, thus visual splendour.
In M Cream, we get neither. The film is as aimless and pointless as its protagonists, and Agneya Singh is no Richard Linklater or Gus Vant Sant who can create magic with a leisurely film about lost young folks (Dazed and Confused, SubUrbia, My Own Private Idaho).
Figs (Imaad Shah) is a pot-smoking, casual cynic. His best friend Maggie (Auritra Ghosh) is, well, just there, and she doesn’t think things through. Maggie’s boyfriend Niz (Raaghav Chanana) is also… just around. The fourth character Jay (Ira Dubey) is a young Bengali girl with some convictions, out there to save the world from evil corporates, basically the Yin to Figs’s Yang. And obviously, they fall for each other and have sex.It is surprising how a film which tells the audience so many times about how non-conformist its protagonist wants to be, a film which pitches itself as ‘India’s First Stoner Film’ and all that jazz, is so, so, so predictable. The film neither shocks nor jolts, forget entertaining or engaging; at least the film could have made you laugh, and the film does not even have jokes.
At one point, Figs does crack a joke. When Jay expresses her wish to meet an activist-journalist called Marie Sartre, Figs quips whether she is related to Jean Paul Sartre. Jay is amused. Ha ha, so funny. NOT.Before going any further, the story in two lines: Four kids travel to Dharamsala; Niz has to click pictures and Jay has something to do with the Free Tibet movement, that is really not worth mentioning, hence “something”. From there, they travel to Mababajagal, supposedly the world’s oldest democracy, where Figs has to score M Cream. That’s about it.
On the way, Figs and Jay get close and start talking. A google search tells you that “sweet nothings” means “words of affection exchanged by lovers”. In M Cream, 90% of the conversation is “stoned nothings” i.e words of <insert expletive> exchanged by stoners. At least, in drug films like Trainspotting, Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Half Baked, the dialogues are exciting, funny, often insightful and make you wonder about things. Here, the characters listen to each other’s nonsense, look ahead into the distance as if they heard something really meaningful, nod and then take another puff.The saving grace of the film is its cinematography, music, and well, Imaad Shah. Thank heavens, the film looks good, if not anything else. Cinematographer Mingjue Hu is a talent to watch out for. So is the music ensemble of Srijan Mahajan, Arsh Sharma and Nikhil Malik whose brilliant soundtrack did not deserve this film.
Finally, Imaad Shah. The young lad fits the role of Figs to the T. If good acting is something where you cannot see the effort, something which convinces you about the reality of the character, then Imaad Shah is fantastic in M Cream. Nothing else matters