The colorful state of Gujrat celebrates hundreds of festivals every year. Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan is one of the biggest festivals amongst them. Thousands of colorful kites decorate the sky and several rooftops crowded with friends and relatives fly them with unending enthusiasm. Kite flying is more than just an activity there. While some fly out of passion for others it’s a tough fight!
Traders from all over flock to the city of Ahmedabad during this festival on the fixed date of 14th January every year, to make and sell different kinds of colorful kites for the kite flyers. Soaring kites and spirits make this festival a passionate sport.
This week my recommendation is 30-minute documentary film by Hardik Mehta AMDAVAD MA FAMOUS (famous in Ahmedabad) available on Netflix.
Logline: Follow an 11-year-old boy as he goes from an ordinary boy to a colorful competitor in his quest for a big win at India’s biggest kite flying competition.
“How many kites can you fly in a day?” asks the maker, “As many as possible” replies Zaid Khedawala. And this sets the tone for the rest of the film. The film starts with 11-year-old Zaid chasing falling kites from the sky, dodging the gridded traffic and jumping terraces. Amdavad Ma Famous traces few days (shot in a span of two years during the festival) in the life of its protagonist Zaid, who along with his boy gang is seen collecting falling kites, buying spools, getting their threads polished with glass in the enchanting city of Ahmedabad during the kite flying festival in January every year. A visual treat, Amdavad Ma Famous, has some stunning shots of kite flying culture in this bustling city. The passion of kite flying that the community shares across age groups and celebrates free will of flying high.
This charming film removes walls between age, community or class and shows the festival being celebrated by one and all with equal joy and energy, that rubs onto the viewer by the end of the film. The fun of getting your own spool, choosing a kite, competing on roof tops with other fighter kites and claiming them when they fall can make you smile. Well shot and well-edited documentaries are my favorite. And an interesting protagonist just adds to the delightful experience. All in all, this National film award winning documentary is an excellent watch this weekend.
Director Hardik Mehta (also the editor) manages to capture the festival very well, maintaining a fine balance between Zaid’s daily activities and the kite flying festival, yet never shifting focus from kites. Shot beautifully by Piyush Putty, the visuals are one of the takeaways from the movie. Aloknanda Dasgupta’s upbeat music also adds to the tempo of the film.
Amdavad Ma Famous was an official selection and in competition at 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, 2016 MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival, 2016 Indian Panorama at International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Goa. The film won Best Foreign Documentary at 2016 River Film Festival in Italy and 2016 All Sports Film Festival, LA, US. The film rates 8.2 on the IMDB.
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(Shweta Basu Prasad is a national award winning actress, famed for Makdee, Iqbal and television show Chandra Nandini. Shweta is a graduate in mass media and journalism.)