Review: ‘Road to Ladakh’

Actor-director-editor Ashvin Kumar makes a smooth transition from short films with "Road to Ladakh," a 50-minute featurette set in the stunning wilds of Ladakh, northwest India, that plays as a teasing, extended mood piece. Tale of a fashion model and taciturn stranger lacks a strong enough final twist to totally satisfy but deserves exposure.

Actor-director-editor Ashvin Kumar makes a smooth transition from short films with “Road to Ladakh,” a 50-minute featurette set in the stunning wilds of Ladakh, northwest India, that plays as a teasing, extended mood piece. Tale of a fashion model and taciturn stranger lacks a strong enough final twist to totally satisfy but deserves some fest exposure and specialized small screen play in hour slots.

Coked-up looker Sharon Kapoor (Koel Purie, from “Everybody Says I Am Fine”) stops at a remote mountain pass to have a tire repaired and later finds herself being followed by a mysterious man (Irfan Khan, lead in “The Warrior”) in a jeep. The two finally talk and, in an ironic sequence, end up sharing a yurt overnight with some locals. As they journey on the next day — she to interview a general on the sensitive India-Pakistan border, and he on some nefarious activity — the two find their destinies intertwined. Aided by Swiss d.p. Markus Huersch’s clean lensing of the sub-Himalayan locations, and controlled perfs by the two leads, pic maintains interest despite the sparse dialogue. Pro tech credits show no sign of the physically difficult shoot.

Road to Ladakh

Market / U.K.

Production

A Rasa Pictures production. (International sales: Rasa, London.) Produced by Ashvin Kumar. Executive producers, Kumar, Shomit Mitter, Suran Goonatilake. Directed, written by Ashvin Kumar.

Crew

Camera (color), Markus Huersch; editor, Kumar; music, Susmit Sen; art director, Ayesha Punvani; costumes, Ritu Kumar. Reviewed on videocassette, London, May 4, 2003. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) English and Hindi dialogue. Running time: 50 MIN.

With

Irfan Khan, Koel Purie, Milan Moudgill, Amit Vasisht, Sardaji, Pankaj Gupta, Ashvin Kumar.
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