Meel Patthar – A Milestone
Manjil Das, INN/Chennai
The colourless cargo that Ghalib transports in his truck is more valuable than him. That is the great irony of Meel Patthar (Milestone), director Ivan Ayr’s second feature film, acquired, like his first, by Netflix. Released on the streaming service amid a pandemic that has made many feel expendable, Meel Patthar is about a man’s struggle to remain relevant in an ecosystem that would much rather have him erased. Suvinder Vicky plays the recently widowed truck driver Ghalib, a Sisyphean character who seems to be on a direct path towards painful obsolescence.
Meel Patthar tells the story of a father and son who are running a truck company for many years. Suddenly they begin to ignore a driver (Ghalib) of their company who has been constantly on the road and achieved a whopping figure of 500,000 km. Yet when Ghalib (Suvinder Vicky), gets tired and suffers from back pain then his owners hardly take note of his problem. They keep flogging him, who already suffers from lots of problems in both personal and professional life. On the road also the greedy police officers have to be humoured with bribes and the owners didn’t raise these amounts. Also the police officer’s demand keeps growing. And with rising costs of maintaining trucks, the company would like to cut corners. Then they decide to hire a younger driver – Pash (Lakshvir Saran) — whom they hope would ultimately replace the older guy. Obviously, the newcomer would be paid less. A standard ploy that the corporate sector in India has begun to adopt. Although Ghalib is a star driver, there is a little empathy for him from his owners. Then back to his home in the village, his dead wife’s family is also demanding monetary compensation. Adding to this, his back also started giving up on him, but still he is made to carry heavy weights.
Steady arrangements characterize Ghalib’s life. A back fit that he suffers when remaining in over the laborers on hartal expects troubling extents. However, he cannot make it an excuse and hold up assignments. Also, he feels it is uncalled for that the fault for his better half’s demise has been put altogether on him, however he consents to repay his sister-in-law (Gaurika Bhatt) and her dad. The panchayat awards Ghalib a month’s an ideal opportunity to sort out the assets.
A month for a man in a stop-go profession is similar to a lifetime. His fears and misgivings fill out the film with brilliant flashes of insight into the human condition in a way that make Ivan Ayr’s second film a genuine milestone, a worthy follow-up to the gritty Soni.