Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review of Nil Bate Sannata

Once upon a time, there was a Children's Film Society of India . It created excellent children's cinema. The kind of cinema that really spoke the language of children. Speak to them, not speak down to them.

Then came the Dark Ages of children's cinema in India - with tiny little flashes of brilliance like The Blue Umbrella, Taare Zameen Par. But otherwise, some child actors, a low intellect script passing for childlike story, and some rather puerile acting, song and dance sequences. In short, Children's cinema from India was a disappointment and you had to depend on Disney to create the magic.

And then comes Nil Bate Sannata. With this film, ladies and gentlemen - Children's Cinema is back!

A story has 5 classic components - Characters,  a Setting, a Problem, a Solution, and a Conclusion. Most story tellers forget these components and believe that a story primarily consists of 2 things - song and dance sequences, and comedy.  Not here. All 5 components of story telling are adroitly handled. The characters are clearly etched, the setting made apparent through subtle visuals, the problem forms the core of the story, and the solution takes its own time unfolding - keeping the viewer involved - close enough to feel, distant enough to analyse.

Many times in the story, you find time to step back, pause and reflect. Many times in the story, my 8 year old asked, "What would you have done in this place?"  The conclusion was nicely drawn out. The final punch - everything that a final punch should be - That moment when you are laughing and crying both. "Kyunki main Bai nahi banna chahti thi." is the most amazing punchline I have heard in a long, long time.

I recommend this film for all children and parents. It doesn't have sugar coated candy to break the monotony of a challenge. It has real moments - lived by real people. It has challenges that we all face, as parents and as children. And everything in between - interested people, role models - you will find many mirrors in this story. And you will find a reflection of self in a lot of them.

If there is one technical aspect that absolutely, totally, utterly stands out, it is Art Direction. Very little airbrush makeup here. The houses are not plastered. The bricks are directly whitewashed, as they are likely to be. The houses with their thin partitions, the small lanes and the terraces without parapets - all little touches that go into creating a lovely visual experience.

Don't miss the songs - lyrics and music, both. The music is so gently intertwined in the film that you don't really notice it. But its beautiful. 

Among the ensemble cast (and imho, it is the ensemble cast that really holds up a good film) - Pankaj Tripathi clearly and absolutely stands out. Watch him. His work is one of the highlights of this film. The other highlight is the boy who plays Amar. I am not able to get his name from the online credits.

in short, this is one of those films that you should first watch in the theater, and then buy the DVD to keep at home and show to all cousins and family kids.

1 comment:

Gentle Breeze said...

Excellent inputs...hope to view it over the weekend