The recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival 2015 (JioMAMI) had a separate children’s film section called Half Ticket, curated by Monica Wahi, who has previously worked with award-winning filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, and programmed for several children’s film festivals such as the Golden Elephant. Wahi defined a children’s film as one, that had a child as its central protagonist, and spoke about the need to open up its target audience of this category beyond children to a wider adult audience. The festival screened wonderful children’s films, selected out of over 400 submissions. Here are four of them that need to be watched, a crop of films that involve complex plotlines and characters, their lucid and simple, yet not simplistic.
Director: Avinash Arun
Killa, directed by debutant filmmaker Avinash Arun has its central protagonist as a child, but cannot be qualified as a children’s film. The film traces the life of 11-year-old Bandya, played by child actor Parth Bhalerao, who is coming to terms with his father’s death. Meanwhile, he tries to cope with the pressure of making new friends after his mother shifts with him to another place post a job transfer.
The film was selected for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, and won the Crystal Bear by the Children’s Jury in the Generation KPlus Selection. It also won at the 62nd National Film Awards for being the best feature film in Marathi. The jury at the Berlin Film Festival said, “This film convinced us in all respects: with its good camera-work and the great actors, but also because of its incredibly beautiful nature images, which blend perfectly with the music. This film made us all want to discover India,” as reported by Variety.
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Dhanak completes Kukunoor’s Rajasthan trilogy. Set in the desert, the film has two orphaned siblings Pari and Chotu as its central characters. Pari has promised her younger brother Chotu that his eyesight will come back to him by his 8th birthday. In order to fulfil his dream, both siblings embark on a journey alone to find Shah Rukh Khan, shooting in a village in Jaisalmer, so that he may meet Chotu and agree to pay for his operation. Dhanak has won The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the best feature-length film at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. The movie premiered at the festival, and also received a special mention from Kids Jury at the festival. It is slated for release by the end of this year.
The festival screened wonderful children’s films, selected out of over 400 submissions. Here are four of them that need to be watched, a crop of films that involve complex plotlines and characters, their lucid and simple, yet not simplistic.
Director: Rajan Khosa
Produced by the Children’s Film Society of India, Gattu opened at the 17th International Children’s Film Festival at Hyderabad in 2012. The film also received a special mention under Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk category at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival. The story is set in the small town of Roorkee, where Gattu, an orphan, works for his tyrannical uncle doing odd jobs for his sustenance. His uncle keeps him out of school, and forces him to do odd jobs. Gattu loves flying kites, and is ready to beg, borrow, steal to fulfil his wishes. Without being parochial, the film portrays the crushing burden of poverty and child labour on the shoulders of a slip of a boy. The kites are a metaphor for Gattu to rise above his situation, and live a better life. His soulful eyes as he sombrely looks at all the kites in the city of Roorkee flying above his head symbolises this.
Director: Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni
Nachiket and Sameer, who happen to be cousins of a similar age, are the best of friends. They come together at their ancestral house on the occasion of an aunt’s marriage. Sameer is disturbed to find his cousin Nachiket full of ennui, and this brings them apart. He doesn’t understand Nachiket’s desire to explore the unknown, his escape from reality to a world where no one recognises him. The family well, where they used to play together, and a source of many joyful memories becomes Nachiket’s refuge which he finds liberating. The well, Nachiket’s escape becomes a source of the sorrow, the depths of Nachiket’s depression. The film was featured in Berlin film festival 2010, and Rotterdam International Film Festival as well.