I thought of Jim Jarmusch's acclaimed Paterson quite often throughout Raj R.'s 8 A.M. Metro, a Platoon One Films release currently in theaters internationally. It's not so much that their stories alike. In fact, they're quite different. It's that the two films share a remarkable lyrical quality, a rhythm and devotion to poetry that immerses you and practically washes over you in ways difficult to describe.
8 A.M. Metro stars Gulshan Devaiah and Saiyami Kher as two strangers whose chance encounter on a metro leads to a friendship that improves their troubled lives while also complicating them in profound ways.
Bathed in immersive poetry, 8 A.M. Metro is a warm and gentle reflection that wraps its trauma-impacted central subjects poignantly in a blanket of dignity and understanding while also portraying them honestly at the same time. The two both carry deep traumas within them and 8 A.M. Metro not so subtly looks at mental health and its stigmas along with the healing power of human connection.
Iravati, played with tenderness and vulnerability by Kher, is a 29-year-old housewife living in Nanded who is called upon to care for her pregnant sister in Hyderabad when pregnancy complications arise. This involves a rather harrowing trip on the Metro, a trip that proves to be fiercely triggering for Iravati due to a trauma we will eventually come to understand.
Devaiah's Preetam is on the surface a little less scarred. A banker, he struggles with profound depression and is haunted by his past.
The two need someone to understand, though the people who surround them either struggle with mental health stereotypes or simply are too distracted to really care.
8 A.M. Metro is a beautiful film to behold with Sunny Kurapati's lensing magnificently capturing a film largely shot on the Hyderabad Metro and otherwise capturing an awe and wonder that practically washes over you again and again. The poetry of Gulzar is wondrous and Mark K. Robin's original music adds depth and emotional resonance to the film.
However, the real heroes of this film are the co-leads, Devaiah and Kher. With a beautiful chemistry, the two seem to live within their characters and draw us in despite a running time that feels just a tad lengthy. Running just shy of two hours, 8 A.M. feels a little long but I also enjoyed every single moment with these two complex characters.
Lately, it seems as if American audiences have been enraptured by some of the more fast-paced and action-filled flicks coming out of India, RRR for example, but 8 A.M. Metro is a reminder of just how diverse and remarkable the India filmmaking community really is across the board. While 8 A.M. Metro may not be the best film you'll see in 2023, it's a beautiful film that left me contemplating its messages and meditating upon its wisdom.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic