Dev Benegal’s beguiling, beautiful “Road, Movie” is a trek adventure told with tenderness and humor. Abhay Deol’s Vishnu feels stuck, expected to help his father endlessly promote his failing hair oil business, hawking a product that not only grooms the hair but promises to increase virility, stop aging and to relax the mind.
Escape comes in the form of a huge, quaintly decorated 1942 Chevy truck, which for years has served as a traveling picture show, projecting an old collection of Bollywood movies — and even a Buster Keaton silent — to folks living in the hinterlands. Vishnu persuades its elderly owner to let him drive the old vehicle through the desert all the way to a seaside town, where it has been sold to a local museum.
In short order, Vishnu picks up an array of personalities along the way and faces some scary encounters. “Road, Movie” becomes a classic, touching journey of self-discovery for Vishnu in which Benegal has taken a familiar plot and made it fresh with a light, unpretentious touch. As it turns out, it was a good thing Vishnu brought along a supply of his father’s “miraculous” hair product.
“Road, Movie.” MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. In Hindi with English subtitles. At Laemmle’s Sunset 5, West Hollywood.