While the dedicated movie buff must have heard of this short film, people like you and me, who have little time to follow-up on what is happening in the tinsel town unless it hits the small screen, or becomes the talk of town through hype and media efforts, may have missed this real stuff that, ironically came packed with the ‘Slumdog’ blue-ray DVDs, several years back and even won two MIFF awards.
It is wonderful, in a way, that Danny Boyle saw and appreciated the film to consider its distribution alongside his Oscar winning venture. Unfortunately, for the less endowed third-world viewers, we rarely have a chance to see these startling Indian film experimentations that go to prove that while high budget films may go begging for awards, these starkly low budget creations can just give a run for the best of awards to any celebrated director of the Hollywood genre.
The subject, treatment and media of this film are dark- dark enough not to allow the viewer to get comfortable. The story is told in captivating black and white film collages- that are unique as photographic shots, and sum up to tell a fascinating, even if somber, story.
‘Manjha’ or the kite-string made of glue and ground glass, a plaything for kids, turning into a weapon of defense and revenge, is metaphorically used in the story. The script is abrasive, as the life on the streets and not toned as most Bollywood scripts. The photography mesmerizes, with the hard contrast of black and white never softened or made soothing, not even when morning breaks on the kids. Street children, lost and helpless, and the parallelism of the hungry street puppy, create for a poetic and cathartic scene- that I simply loved.
Meager in resources, a high degree of credit must be given to the director for the end product. There is only a little slowing down towards the end, just prior to the climax, but not much is lost. A comparison comes to mind, with the hugely publicized Hollywood production, with its candy-faced lover boy and girl, which looks like a made up Mills and Boon romantic drama compared to this real life short snippet.
Finally, a word of caution, this is not a drawing room entertainer. If you are happy with your middleclass morality and mall-nightclub life, please avert the risk of viewing reality of our country. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am sure, once into the commercial mill, producers will not offer the same guy the choice of such directional atrocities on film.
Genre: Noir film, Marathi-hindi short
Director: Rahi Anil Barve
Camera: Pankaj Kumar
Awards: Best film award in the fiction category;
IDPA award for the best first film by a director (10 MIFF)