Directed by Armenian brothers Gor and Mushegh Baghdasaryan, Hit the Road: India closely follows two friends, Richard Gazarian and Keith King, as they travel across the country in a rickshaw, a means of transport that most would probably call old-fashioned and impractical. It's not an ordinary expedition, however. As a two-man team they've decided to participate in Mumbai Express, a 12-day-long rickshaw rally across India, along with 5 other adventure craving pairs. Although very enthusiastic at first, they gradually come to realize it's a race that demands not only lots of mental and physical strength, but also a great deal of determination and good will.
The documentary doesn't really focus on the race per se, but on the experiences that the two men have during their long trip. Days filled with enthusiasm and luck often intertwine with days marked by pain and signs of resignation, creating a very diverse travelogue of the most engaging kind. Mixed emotions only confirm that even though the decision to take part in the event might've been a bit foolish, it will surely have a greatly rewarding effect.
In the form of an audiovisual travel journal, the boys present their many escapades with the help of camera's attentive and inquisitive eye. Due to many wonderfully picturesque shots the journey is blessed with excitement, vigor, and that rare kind of beauty worthy of a true travel documentary. Complemented by an interesting, often emotional narration by the travelers, Hit the Road: India only proves that India is a country of great allure, but the further we go the more tiring such an unusual expedition might soon become.
Apart from its huge attention to eye-popping landscape shots, the camera offers a close insight into the everyday lives of Indians, who are often enormously fascinated and amused by the presence of white people. Scenes that were the most appealing to me, however, were the ones filmed by a camera hidden inside the tuk-tuk. Those short sequences have the ability to exhibit genuine feelings in a funny and surprising way.
Even though I'm perfectly aware that the directors' intentions wasn't to concentrate on the entire course of the rally, I would've loved to see what all the other participants felt about this challenging adventure. With supplementary, probably completely different perspectives on the whole thing, the film would've gained an additional driving force to give the story a more meaningful tone. It's a lot of fun to watch the guys in action, but there are a few slower moments that could otherwise be improved by an alternative point of view.
Hit the Road: India is not a remarkable documentary, but an inspiring one. What makes the film enticing is its lively and eventful depiction of the journey, meant to encourage the viewers to take a risk and experiment a bit during their own journeys. As I've mentioned earlier, there are really lots of exciting and original ways that will make an initially ordinary getaway unforgettable. So, instead of buying a plane or train ticket next time why don't you just hop on a motorbike and take a cross-country road trip somewhere in India or in any other place that still waits to be fully explored?
Original review here: http://twitchfilm.com/2013/12/review-hit-the-road-india-an-inspiring- and-vibrant-travelogue.html