Francis(Owen Wilson), Peter(Adrien Brody) and Jack(Jason Schwartzman) are brothers who have not seen much of each other since their father died. Francis, with the aim to rekindle the relationship between the brothers decides to take them on a spiritual journey into India on board the Darjeeling Limited. However the task proves to more difficult than what Francis might have expected.
The distance which was created after the death of their father has left a rather gaping void between the brothers. Francis soon finds out that his brothers might not be trusting him completely and as the journey progresses he realizes getting through to them might just a tad too difficult. While Peter is reluctant to continue with the journey and his only reason to stay on is because wants to get away from a 6 & 1/2 months pregnant wife that he wanted to divorce, Jack starts developing a fetish for an Indian Train stewardess and eavesdrop over his ex-girlfriend by making long distance phone calls to her answering machine.
Francis himself has a hidden agenda which when comes to light further raises questions on their mutual trust. However, irrespective of all the undoings, fights, a funeral, a venomous snake let loose in their compartment, and a torrid affair, the journey does emancipate the brothers and they find their answers and way to spiritual well being amidst the chaos called life.
The Darjeeling Limited is a wonderfully filmed movie. Each of the scenes are resplendent with beauty and grandeur of a country buoyant with such an amazing and varied lifestyle that one may spend a life time to experience the same. Be it the turban clad Chief Attendant of the train who has the expertise to catch a venomous snake or the humble lady attendant who is not afraid to take a bonker in the washroom of a train and be cool about it or even the family that has just lost a son and yet doesn’t forget to treat its guest with the best that they have got. This is Wes Anderson’s version of India. Though not completely authentic in its portrayal, yet it provides for an engrossing watch.
The story of the three brother who are on different drugs needed a surrealistic setting and a blown out version of the traditional India provides for that. We see and smell India through the eyes and nose of the “not so sure about themselves” brothers. They have their difference and the past keeps popping up every now and then between them which is seamlessly woven into the narrative using primarily the short stories of Jack, which he claims to be fiction. That was really a master stroke from Anderson and by the time we reach the end of the movie, every line from Jack’s stories finds its way into the narrative. The Darjeeling Limited is complete in itself.The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful. The compositions by Robert D. Yeoman are in stark keeping with the mood of the storyline and more so with the aesthetics as seen through the eyes of Wes Anderson.
The opening sequence where we see a Business man hurrying his way to catch the train and missing it by a whisker with Peter’s character outrunning him in slow motion. It is truly a picture of beauty and this scene can be interpreted in different way to make sense. The following conversation between the brothers sets about the basic premise and how the brothers feel about each other. The spiritual rituals between held between the brothers shows us the lack of their coordination and commitment to each other. Their visit with their estranged mother who by the way leaves them after a night is both touching and funny in some strange ways.
Owen Wilson has his face wrapped in bandages for most part of the movie and yet is able to emote through those bandages. Jason Schwartzman is the most volatile of the three and also has some of the best set pieces attributed to him. Adrien Brody. Amara Karan, Wallace Wolodarsky and Waris Ahluwalia in their cameos are perfect.
Overall, The Darjeeling Limited is a wonderful watch. It is both entertaining and thought provoking. Anyone with love for humble and artistic cinema will love this one.