The happy storey of a little hamlet dealing with imminent disaster. The film will put a smile on your face
Critic’s Rating: 3.0/5
Bandilingam Palli in Karimnagar is simply another community in Karimnagar that is afraid of the crash of the space station Skylab in 1979. They decide to live life to the fullest before the coming apocalypse, and they work hard to make their ambitions a reality.
It’s not every day that a film comes along that will melt your heart. Skylab is one of those films that makes you stop and think about how happiness can be found in the smallest of things. This is an unusual film in which there is no such thing as a “lead,” because the plot is the protagonist. With the use of heartfelt conversations, director Vishvak Kanderao brings the characters in this universe to life.
It’s the year 1979. SkyLab, a NASA space station, has completed its integration and is set to crash land in South India. The location is a tiny hamlet in rural Telangana named Bandilingam Palli. Various personalities live there, including Gowri (Nithya Menen), an aspiring journalist who wants her tales to be featured on the front of a monthly magazine. Anand (Satyadev) is a doctor who has lost his licence and intends to open a clinic in this area.
The first half of the picture is plenty of laughs, but it takes its time getting into the heart of things. Vishvak does not take any cinematic liberties, depending exclusively on the plot to carry the film forward. While this may give the impression that the film is a’slow watch,’ the peasants’ innocence is pure delight. One of the most engaging tracks involves Subedar Ramarao (Rahul Ramakrishna) and his family’s background. The settlement is put up in such a way that it transports you back in time. Sure, there are times when your focus wanders, but the first half of the picture closes on a positive note.
The second part of the film is now where the true heart of the storey is. When the villagers begin to believe they would all die soon, Gowri views it as a news item to investigate, sensationalise, and make dope enough to put into a cover storey. Anand also establishes a clinic alongside Subedar to begin treating the villagers. The trio discovers tremendous dreams exist even in these little lives as they travel deep into the lives of the people. For example, an elderly Dalit man’s desire is to visit the Ramalayam and view Lord Rama’s statue. He’s been forbidden from visiting the temple his entire life, and it’s only because of the impending destruction that his desire comes true. It’s one of the film’s greatest sequences.
Skylab also performs an excellent job of delving into themes such as untouchability, poverty, and a lack of medical resources. Despite the fact that the film is set in the 1970s, it still rings true in 2021 (and it’s nearly 2022!). Prashanth R Vihari, the film’s music composer, creates a beautiful background tune that lingers long after the credits have rolled. Skylab rests on the depth that resides inside these characters, rather than on how well Nithya, Satyadev, and Rahul perform (which they do well). The supporting cast is also excellent.
Skylab isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea because it’s not your typical drama. However, if you’re looking for something lighthearted and different, don’t miss this flick at the theatres. Remember to put on a mask.