At its heart, Milestone is a film that commands attention and submersion into the despondency that Ghalib faces at every juncture of his life.
Sombre, placid and a fillip to rumination - Ivan Ayr’s Milestone opens with a single take of Ghalib (Suvinder Vicky), a truck driver, going about his activities at his workplace. In the early hours of the morning, he is loading his truck and it is now that his incessant backache begins, which culminates and adds to his existing troubles.
The tale of a dog-eat-dog world - where Ghalib, despite being an overachieving and loyal employee who has covered over 500,000 kms at the job, is still struggling to maintain his stronghold - Milestone (Meel Patthhar) is Ayr’s depiction of a desolate, unfulfilled life. Ghalib is scarcely recovering from the loss of his wife when his boss gets a wind of his aching back. The next thing he knows is that he has been assigned an intern, Pash (Lakshvir Saran), who will presumably take over his job when Ghalib becomes redundant. The times are moving too fast for Ghalib, who is unable to catch up.
Though the world around him seems to be collapsing on him, Ghalib is facing a storm on the inside too. Not only do his wife’s sister and father hold him responsible for her suicide, even Ghalib is mulling in possible guilt. His only purpose is his job now, but with the arrival of Pash, the future is clear for him- he will be replaced, with nothing else to pressure him to get through his life. Shrouded in loneliness, devoid of human connection and threatened by modernity which will eventually consume him, Ghalib paints the picture of a man who cannot find his bearings.
A poignant a comment on the transience of one’s position in the world, Milestone also sheds light on issues like a skewed sex ratio in Haryana. Both Ghalib's wife and his neighbour are residents of different states of India, who have only settled in Haryana after getting married. Most of all, one motif of the film is recurrent and patent- like Ghalib, there are many individuals who are only a milestone on a journey. They have no sense of belonging and exist between lands, with no place to call home. In the midst of this, a young Indian generation finds itself weeding the older generation out, even if that is not the intention.
Ayr naming his characters Ghalib and Pash is apparent enough, but the gradation of their portrayals is not. Vicky’s steely eyed determination slowly turning into exasperated resignation, every ounce of his existence as Ghalib expelling agony and his aimless direction in life, all make his portrayal gutturally real. At its heart, Milestone is a film that commands attention and submersion into the despondency that Ghalib faces at every juncture of his life.