'Guy in the Sky' Review: Bikas Mishra's entertaining and thought-provoking satire about India's current political climate

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Guy in the Sky', HotStar, Poster, Web Film, Maanvi Gagroo, Sunny Hinduja, Tannishtha Chatterjee, directed by Bikas Mishra

The award-winning director of Chauranga, Bikas Ranjan Mishra, who recently made his digital debut with Pagla Ghoda, an adaptation of Badal Sarkar’s classic Bengali play of the same name, for Star Network’s popular streaming platform HotStar, is coming out with his second web film titled A Guy in the Sky. And, like Pagla Ghoda, it is produced by CinePlay—the brainchild of actors Nandita Das and Subodh Maskara that endeavors to present timeless stories as a new, digitally-immersive avatar of cinema. A tongue-in-cheek satire on the current political climate in India, Guy in the Sky will be streaming on HotStar from 13 June onwards. It is inspired by Chandrashekhara Kambara's Kannada play titled Harakeya Kuri.

Guy in the Sky revolves around three characters, viz. an urban middle-class couple and an uninvited guest who rudely intrudes their house. It opens with Jean Luc Godard’s famous saying: “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.” Guy in the Sky stars Tannishtha Chatterjee (Unindian, Angry Indian Goddesses, Parched), Maanvi Gagroo (TVF Pitchers/Tripling), and Sunny Hinduja (Ballad of Rustom). We are introduced to the couple at the beginning of the first act. At first everything looks picture-perfect. We have a caring husband who’s preparing breakfast for her wife. The wife, who is organizing a protest march against a popular political leader, is waiting eagerly for the husband at the breakfast table to tell him about the brilliant idea she has for her profile picture. She wants all her friends to use the same picture along with the hashtag 'NetajiShameShame'. She then asks her husband to change it as well but he seems reluctant to do so. When she continues to insist, he tells her that it might lead to him being trolled on the social media. For, he was the one who had written Netaji’s campaign song. This results in a heated argument after which the wife leaves for the protest march.

As the wife leaves, the husband gets back to his work. But, he is unable to concentrate because of the loud noises coming from the outside. Apparently, they are coming from the programme organized in the honor of the very politician (Netaji) against whom his wife was going to organize the protest march. Along with the loud Bhajans we also get to hear a voice on the loudspeaker that constantly hums jingles in Netaji’s honor such as “ABCDEFG… NETAJI NETAJI… 2G 3G 4G... NETAJI NETAJI”. Soon enters the uninvited guest, taking the couple’s life by storm. Certain uncanny developments take place and the wife, to her great shock, ends up learning that her husband is actually a great admirer of Netaji. Guy in the Sky is not just a satire on India’s current political climate but it is also a careful examination of the modern middle-class couples that highlights the superficial value system they adhere to and materialistic pursuits they are after. It is also a reminder of our alarming overdependence on social media.

Overall, Guy in the Sky makes for an effective satire that entertains while simultaneously making us think. The pacing is brilliant and the tension is unrelenting thanks to the director’s choice to include several long continues takes. Of course, the credit also goes to the three actors (Hinduja, Chatterjee, and Gagroo, in that very order) who make it possible. Dealing with a subject material like this one is akin to walking on a landmine but Bikas Mishra packages it so cleverly that the mockery feels most subtle. As a matter fact, it feels more like a debate between two opposing ideologies. And that’s nothing short of a triumph. However, for a more discernible viewer, Guy in the Sky can prove to be much richer at the sub textual level. As we continue to the debate about the notions of free speech, Guy in the Sky shows us the way forward. 

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!   

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