Malana cream, the high-quality hashish from Himachal Pradesh, and the village where it originates were the subjects of Amlan Datta’s absorbing documentary Bom A Day Ahead of Democracy in 2011. Datta spent days in the remote village and returned with a romanticised portrait of the villagers and their relationship with the drug that is their sustenance. Agneya Singh’s debut feature M Cream is about a group of entitled Delhi residents who try to find the village where the prized narcotic originates. Like the stoners, the movie never quite finds its way.
A shortage of quality hashish in Delhi encourages the wealthy drifter Figaro (Imaad Shah) to get off his couch and set out on a road trip with his friends Niz (Raaghav Chanana) and Maggie (Auritra Ghosh). Jay (Ira Dubey), a journalist with whom Figaro has had a run-in at a party the previous night, is the fourth wheel in the journey. Figaro and Jay squabble for the sake of producing dramatic tension in a movie that is bereft of it¸ but alcohol and drugs help them discover that they are kindred souls.
The misadventures include an acid trip and an encounter with the so-called real world when Figaro and Jay join a handful of activists protesting against a proposed resort in the hills. “We are children of chaos and anarchy escaping into the endless unknown” is just one of the several gnomic statements by Figaro, presented here as a Beatnik in search of truth via a quest to push drugs into his system. There’s as much rhyme to his writings as there is reason for the disjointed actions of the underdeveloped characters. The highly pretentious dialogue, most of it in English, certainly injects unintended humour into what is an earnest but unsuccessful attempt to make grandiose statements about politics, the state of the nation, the meaning of existence, and revolution.
With his dreadlocks and cultivated cool, Imaad Shah looks the part of a permanent stoner, but his sub-par acting skills make Figaro as much of a joke as nearly everything else in the movie. At the top of the list of offenders is Barry John, putting on a southern American accent for the part of a hippie who runs a commune where stoners regularly meet to trip and have sex under the stars. If M Cream is what passes for underground cinema in India, perhaps it’s best that it stays underground.