Kiddie kite tale sends hopes soaring

Hindi (U)
Cast: Mohammad Samad, Naresh Sharma, Jayanta Das, Harshit, Zoya
Director: Rajan Khosa  

A hundred years of cinema, 1,000 plus films annually, countless stars, select superstars, world class directors, technicians, crores available for financing a film, an International children’s film festival and a cinema-loving audience. What more can a film industry possibly want? Nothing apparently, yet, there exists a glaring lacuna.

Indian cinema has hardly come up with films worthy of its young audiences. It perhaps merits a mention here that one of this week’s releases will find itself mentioned in the annals of Indian cinema.

Not because it is an outstanding film but because Gattu directed by Rajan Khosa is the first film produced by Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) to have a theatrical release.

It is the story of an underprivileged child Gattu whose sole ambition in life is to cut ‘Kali’ — a kite whom no one in his town has been able to defeat.

Since only the local school’s high roof will prove to be the right vantage point to fly his own kite from, Gattu ends up using all his ingenuity, guile and managerial skills to make sure that he gets there to fulfil his objective.

With innocent friends for company who fall for all his tales about terrorists keeping an eye on the school to how he is on a secret assignment to defeat the terrorists’ mission — Gattu is a rather heart-warming account. Mohammad Samad (as Gattu) with his ‘button eyes’ and a smile to die for, turns out to be the real hero despite all his tricks. The fact that he wheedles his way into everyone’s hearts — including pals, teachers, the school principal and finally audiences — is proof that children’s cinema can work wonders without becoming pedantic in tone.

Naresh Sharma, as Gattu’s chachu, does a great job of playing guardian to a precocious child who loves flaunting his newly acquired knowledge to less-than-fortunate friends.

Moving sequences such as when Gattu creates an air lantern for his rag-picker buddies; when he is giving instructions to classmates to help him with his ‘mission’ and when he is dealing with guilt pangs, form the backbone of an otherwise almost-there film. 

Rajan Khosa’s (of Dance of the Wind fame) direction could do with some polishing but it really is the content which will steal your heart. The music by Sandesh Shandilya is catchy and hummable, while Satya Nagpaul’s cinematography brings magic to mundane locales of Roorkee.

However, the real credit must go to Nandita Das, who as CFSI chairperson, has
ensured that Gattu will become the frontrunner for a lot of other good CFSI films finding their way to the open market.   

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