Director Ritwik Pareek has a sense of humour about his new film, Dug Dug. “Absurd, bizarre or downright funny,” he calls it, but no matter how weird his film is, “India is far more strange.” Duly noted.
A drunk man weaves his way down the highway, oblivious to his many near-death experiences as his little motorcycle wobbles toward its destination. Finally turning onto a quiet dirt road, it seems as though the drunkard may live, but a voluptuous siren calls his name from a billboard, and the sight of her cleavage is his undoing. The next day his body is scraped off the road and his blue motorcycle with a pink seat is impounded by the police and eventually chained up in their yard. The next morning, the motorcycle is missing – or rather it’s been relocated back to the crash site. And no matter how many times it’s removed, or how well it’s locked up, it always finds its way back there, driverless. It’s a miracle, obviously, so naturally the seeds are sown for a new religion.
Not just religion, but religious fervour, and the commerce/capitalism that so often comes along with it. Pareek expresses this through bright and beautiful montages, a riot of colour and culture, with temples and charities and rituals and offerings and deities springing up out of nowhere like they were inevitable. Pareek’s satire is infectious, often funny, often fun. There’s also just something joyful about his irreverent and inventive style, an exuberance to his colour palette, a fever dream of faith catching like wildfire and spreading even faster. Yet for all this commentary on idolatry and commercialism, the film never feels cynical. Pareek manages to satirize ideology without shaming his characters. It’s a bold and exciting piece of Indian cinema with a wild score that’s almost spiritual itself.