This first feature film by Delhi-based filmmaker Agneya Singh looks at diverse aspects of the educated, well-to-do young today. It captures their predicament at a stage when they are trying to grasp their reality and attempting to make decisions that could lead them to the anchor they are looking for.

The film’s release ended the agonising wait for a debut talent. The good news is that it found an opening, in the strangulating hold that popular cinema has on distribution in the country’s meagre 12,000 cinemas.

‘M Cream’ is rewarding in every sense – its searching content, its wide-ranging actors, its scenic settings and most of all, its sense of displacement in a country and time the protagonists are trying to come to terms with. ‘

M Cream’ has traveled to over 30 film festivals, winning acclaim and 10 awards, taking its time to finally get to a theatre near you. This is what Laurence Kardish, noted film curator and former head of New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s film section, has to say, “M Cream is not only a wildly promising debut feature film, but an eye-popping, propulsive and energetic hybrid of American independent and Bollywood filmmaking.”

I saw ‘M Cream’ at the at the NFDC Film Bazaar, in its almost finished form. I felt then that it was ahead of its time in its presentation and the issues it raised. Many films have followed in the same vein and genre and the language it uses, which is well-spoken English. At its centre ostensibly is how hash, liquor, dance and music is a primary comfort zone.

The film then develops into another zone of escape. It drifts into being a road movie that winds its way into lonely hill forests and another cultural habitat.

The film takes four college-going youngsters as its protagonists, each struggling with an inner demon. They join together to escape the forces that control them, whether it is the grasping values of their wealthy parents, their constricting jobs or a love life that is too free-wheeling. Together they reach out to search for beliefs and faith in a world they find false and scheming.

The music is also wide-ranging, from Indian folk to classical strains and western country songs that voice and comment on their life and problems. Above all the acting is of a uniformly high standard, with Imaad Shah as Figs, Ira Dube as Jay, Auritra Ghosh as Maggie and Raaghav Chanana as Niz, surrounded by known theatre names such Barry John, Lushin Dubey, Tom Alter and a handful of European actors led by Beatrice Ordeix.

The film follows Figs, who confesses at the start that his only love in life is hash. He is steadily going to seed both at University and his home, where his smug parents crave their comfort and lifestyle. He is bereft when he finds he has run out of his hash supply. Rebel that he is, he decides to join four other friends of his age group, also drifters seeking refuge, and they set out on a distant car ride to find the ultimate drug –– M Cream.

Their journey is one of discovery at every stage, for them and also for those watching the film. The four confide in each other lucidly and clearly on their fears and angst. They talk of the ills and hypocrisy they see around them. They express viewpoints on the disasters caused in the name of religion (Delhi 1984, Mumbai 1992, Gujarat 2002, Assam 2012). They are aware of how the government under the guise of so-called development is destroying green fields and forests for commercial industrial projects. They are witness to how social activists use their own gambits to get media bytes. These youngsters are socially aware, intelligent and concerned human beings and we identify with them and their sense of isolation as they continue their journey.

Writer, director, producer Agneya Singh presents his film as a socio-political commentary on the issues of the day as seen through the eyes of young India. He adds, “In a country that is riddled with paradoxes and paranoia, it is the new generation that is forming the vanguard of rebellion.”