The film will put a smile on your face

Story: Bandilingam Palli in Karimnagar is just another village that fears the fall of Skylab, a space station, in 1979. Deciding to lead their life to the fullest before impending doom, they strive to make their dreams come true.

Review: It’s not every day that one comes across a film that’ll melt your heart. Skylab is one such movie that’ll force you to take a pause and wonder how happiness can be found in little things. This is a rare film where there’s no such thing as a ‘lead’ because it’s the story that’s the hero of the tale. Director Vishvak Kanderao truly pours life into the character inhabiting this world, aided by heart-touching dialogues.

It’s 1979. NASA’s SkyLab, a space station, has integrated and is expected to crash land in South India. The setting is a small village called Bandilingam Palli in rural Telangana. Inhabiting it are various characters, like Gowri (Nithya Menen), an aspiring journalist who wants her stories to get published on the cover of a weekly. Anand (Satyadev) is a doctor who lost his medical licence and plans to start a clinic in this village.

The first half of the film has many hilarious moments but it takes its own sweet time to get into the thick of things. Vishvak does not surrender to any cinematic liberties, solely relying on the story to take things through. While this might make the audience feel like the film is a ‘slow watch’, the innocence of the villagers is bliss. An episode involving Subedar Ramarao (Rahul Ramakrishna) and his family’s history is one of the most enjoyable tracks. The way the village is set up is so authentic; it takes you back in time. Sure, there are moments in the film where your attention meanders but the first half ends on a decent note.

Now, the second half of the film is where its heart truly lies. When the villagers begin to believe they’re all going to die soon, Gowri looks at it like a news story to explore, sensationalise and get dope enough to turn it into a cover story. Anand also starts a clinic with Subedar to start treating the people of the village. In this journey of delving deep into the villagers’ lives, the trio realise intense dreams exist even in these small lives. For instance, an old Dalit man’s dream is to enter the Ramalayam and see the statue of Lord Rama. He has been restricted from entering the temple all his life and his dream finally comes true only due to the devastation that’s to come. It is one of the best scenes in the film.

Skylab also does a good job of exploring issues like untouchability, poverty and lack of medical facilities. Despite the film being set in the 70s, it sadly rings truly even in 2021 (and it’s almost 2022!). Music composer Prashanth R Vihari delivers a wonderful background score that stays with you long after the end credits roll. More than relying on how well Nithya, Satyadev and Rahul perform (and they do it well), Skylab relies on the depth that exists within these characters. The supporting cast also does a good job.

Skylab is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea as it’s anything but your run-of-the-mill drama. But if you’re in the mood for something light-hearted and unique, do not miss this film in the theatres. Don’t forget to wear a mask.

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