July 15, 2011 5:34:58 pm
Fabulous fare for all ages
What is a true-blue childrens film? Logically,it is something simple and supremely entertaining,has a repeat and shelf value,is equally involving for adults and has a huge fun quotient with an emotional connect and a subtle but important message or two.
India has faced a severe shortage of films that can be released as mainstream cinema and enjoyed by,to use a catchphrase,children of all ages.
And here at last is a film that possesses all the ideal qualities of this rare genre and entertains from first frame till the last. There is zero preaching and no sermons. The kids are normal,urban,middle-class boys of assorted shapes,sizes,communities and aptitudes who happen to be close chums as they live in the same housing society in Mumbai.
When the societys old car-cleaner goes to his village,a new boy,Fatka (Irrfan Khan) who is an orphan comes in as replacement. The kids,collectively called Chillar Party by the residents,resent the boys inseparable companion Bhidu,a dog,as the only other canine in the society (literally) queers their cricket pitch regularly. So they try to harass the boy into leaving but are instead won over by his simplicity and soon become his fast friends.
When a minor imbroglio happens during a ministers visit because of the dog,the vindictive politician decides to pass a law on stray canines. He declares that the society must evict the dog,or it will be taken away by the citys civic authorities.
The kids decide to fight when the society meeting decides that the dog has to go out of fear of the politician. Encyclopaedia (Sanath Menon),the brightest of the friends,digs out a Housing Societies rule-book that states that if more than 50 per cent of the members support a motion,no one can oppose it. Their goal now is to get 31 signatures from the 60 residents granting a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to let the dog remain on the premises. From here begins the most gripping part of the film. The uphill task is not made easy because the society secretary is manipulated by the minister and the kids own parents oppose the children and most of them refuse to sign on the NOC letter.
Soon,the boys realise that such simple measures will not work. The only young girl in the complex (Shreya Sharma),a professional model who the boys have nicknamed Toothpaste,comes to their aid and suggests involving the media.
Of course,there is a happy ending and the dog proudly wears a collar with the societys name,but it is this journey from trouble to near-defeat to triumph that is truly heartwarming,rib-tickling and also hard-hitting in its underlying message. Fatkas cryptic statement about why he is happy that he was never educated is a tight and hard slap on the social system and its hypocritical double standards. And the turning-point is something to be watched rather than described.
The best thing about this wonderfully scripted and directed film is that there is never a dull moment or a dry or morose note. The sharply-etched adult characters (especially that of the Radio Jockey played by Akash Dahiya) give fabulous support to the lovable bunch of kids,named aptly after their kinks,like Silencer (who never speaks),Jhangiya (who never wears undergarments!) and Panauti (because whatever he says unfailing goes wrong!) and of course the tapori orphan Fatka.
The dialogues are plain magnificent and keep us chortling from beginning to end,and the editing is razor-sharp. A special pat is in order for Amit Trivedis background score and his song,Aa rela hai apun.
But the true stars of this film are Vikas Bahl and Nitesh Tiwari,who have co-written and co-directed this quasi-masterpiece,and the kids.
There is not a false note in the brilliant performances of the kids,the scene-stealers being Irrfan Khan as Fatkawatch his eyes speak volumes and his awesome dialogue deliveryand Naman Jain as Jhangiya. But every kid is simply outstanding,including Rohan,Sanath,Aarav,Vishesh, Chinmay (Panauti),Vedant, Divji and Shreya.
Rating: One star for the story and script,the second for the director,the third for the fabulous kids and the fourth for the sheer excellence of the overall product and its message.
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