Gattu off to Berlin

Gattu off to Berlin

India’s official entry to the Berlinale brings its producer,the Children’s Film Society of India,back under the spotlight.

It has been quite a journey for Gattu,a movie produced by the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) and directed by Rajan Khosa. The film that opened the 17th edition of the biennial International Children’s Festival of India in Hyderabad last November,has been selected as India’s entry to the Berlin International Film Festival,also known as Berlinale. It will be screened in the second half of the festival,which is scheduled to kick off on February 9,and compete for the Crystal Bear award.

Its selection has come as a boost for the CFSI,which has often received flak for not keeping with the times and producing films that can be part of mainstream cinema. “The buzz generated over its selection for the Berlinale will hopefully help the movie find a wider audience in India,” says Nandita Das,chairperson of CFSI. Gattu is likely to have an April release in India,when the school term ends.

The story of Gattu was selected through a competition conducted by the CFSI. Written by KD Satyam,this autobiographical tale revolves around a young boy,Gattu,who is illiterate but street-smart. It’s this quality and the passion for kite flying that ultimately helps him conquer the unbeatable kite,called Kali. “The story held a special appeal for me,” says the director. The biggest kick for him,however,came from working with children. “The process of bringing out the actor in them is sheer joy,” he says. What helped the crew while shooting the film in Roorkee,Uttarakhand,was the fact that Samad Mohammad,a Class V student who plays the character of Gattu,turned out to be natural at kite flying.

The film has been in the making for the last two years. For the shooting,the crew scanned the streets and schools of Roorkee for actors. They workshopped with them before casting them in movie. “Even for the location and set of the film,they requested the local community of Sati Mohalla in Roorkee to waive the rent. The locals chipped in with their furniture,clothes and utensils,” says Khosa,adding that the film now belongs to Sati Mohalla. However,the most interesting aspect of its production is the creation of kite-flying scenes. “It was difficult to capture the flying kites in the skies. So,95 percent of kite scenes in the film are computer-generated,” says Khosa.

Gattu seems to have given an impetus to the CFSI to make an effort to popularise and market their films in a bigger way. “We have kept a budget for marketing Gattu. We are yet to learn ropes of marketing a film,but we are working towards it,” says Das.