The least you expect — when the founders and promoters of one of the biggest EDM (electronic dance music) festivals in the country make a movie that revolves around their annual event — is a crackling soundtrack and a heady, if virtual, live experience.
Writer-director Shailendra Singh is one of the forces (or ‘inceptor’ as they call him in the film) behind the success of Sunburn in Goa. In the film Sunshine Music Tours and Travels, he takes his inside knowledge and access to the festival, and with the help of co-writer Sehaj K Maini, manufactures a tribute to his own creation.
A line at the start of the two-hour narrative tells us that Sunshine Music Tours and Travels (SMTT) is based on true events. The film opens with an irritating dhaba owner talking to himself about how cold it is that morning. It has snowed overnight, but the boys sleeping on the roof of the dhaba are blissfully unaffected.
Turns out Sunburn (Sunny Kaushal) and Rajma Romeo (Ashrut Abhinan Jain) are orphans who work in the dhaba in Kashmir. Sunburn (the person) has harboured the dream of visiting Sunburn (the event) for seven years, because he apparently loves EDM.
How do we know he loves EDM? Because one time he plays it on a retro cassette player at the dhaba, and he also says so a few times. His bestie Romeo is ready to lie, steal cheat and forsake his great love — a cardboard cutout of Aliaa Bhatt (don’t even ask) — to make brother Sunburn’s dream a reality.
So Romeo sets up a Facebook page, cons a bus company owner and the boys set off on a cross-country trip from Kashmir to Goa, picking up a rag-tag bunch of travellers along the way. There’s an elder man in the twilight of his years, a blingy woman with two teenage daughters, a lesbian couple, a blogger and two body-builder type men who are shirtless throughout – perhaps to show off their painted-on six packs?
Naturally the action culminates at Sunburn — the event, not the two-dimensional central character — where we get our only sampling of some pumping EDM. But it’s disappointingly too little and of course, too late.
SMTT could have been many things — a fun road trip about a motley crew who share a love of EDM, but it’s not that. It could have been a super showcase of EDM music and a live event like Sunburn (given that they have access to all the footage). It’s not that either. It may even have been the story of two friends and their bromance; okay, so it’s a little bit of that.
With take offs on Bollywood films and scenes like the now-famous monologue from ‘Pyar Ka Punchnama’ and Sunburn (the person, not the event) finding inner strength to fight off goons at a Delhi bar with the chanting of the Hanuman Chaleesa, it could even have been a passable spoof aimed at the youth.
But interspersed with PJs, rife with stereotypes and a shockingly insipid soundtrack of Hindi songs (not EDM), tackily shot, edited and styled, with a range of unschooled performances (I have seen 10 year olds behave with greater restraint and maturity than most of these adult characters), SMTT is at best a tacky advertisement for the EDM festival.