Gattu: Movie Review
Director: Rajan Khosa
Cast and Crew: Mohammad Samad, Naresh Kumar, Bhura, K. D. Satyam, Ankur Tiwari and Dileep Shukla
Synopsis: In a small town in central India, kids and adults are equally obsessed with kite-flying. The airspace is dominated by a black kite called Kali with mysterious origins. A street kid Gattu, dreams of defeating Kali but fails. He discovers that the local school has a roof, which will give him a vantage point. Impersonating as a student he sneaks into the school and must now pretend to study. The only problem — he is illiterate! None the less, the little street urchin takes up the challenge… Dreams aren’t impossible when the desire is strong!
Review: Off late filmmakers and novelists seem to have cracked some formula and have associated flying kites with overcoming obstacles. Likewise, this film too uses the element of flying kites as a metaphor to emerging victorious. Ever gazed at someone flying a kite? Notice how it sails against the wind, regardless of how windy the day is, it soars into the sky. However, all of that is dependent on the flier’s determination, if one’s lacks the will power then it’ll fly momentarily and soon fall back and gather dust. These kites are reminiscent of our aspirations, if we reach for the stars then nothing can stop us, if not, then tough luck.
Gattu (Mohammad Samad) is your average urchin, this wide-eyed orphan resides with his uncle, Anees Bhai (Naresh Kumar) and works for him. There’s little the kid can look forward to when all his tyrannical uncle (Naresh Kumar), wants him to do is toil away. Just like other dwellers in rural areas, he also perceives a child as an additional source of income. Inevitably, under such circumstances, a child will long to break free and Gattu does exactly that – by flying kites. It’s perhaps the only thing that gives him solace and more importantly, makes him feel like a child.
Like all other kids his age, Gattu harbors a dream and aspires to defeat Kali, one of the best kite fliers in Roorkee. Kali can only be identified by his black kite and in order to beat him, Gattu thinks of accessing the highest building in town, which is none other than the local school’s terrace. In order to get there, he must pretend to be a student. How illiterate Gattu manages that, forms the film’s plot.
At first glance, the film sounds just like any other triumphant tale but the film’s beauty lies in its execution. In the film’s opening shot itself, you notice the attention to details, right from the flies swarming above a sleepy Gattu to his worn out blanket. Dim lighting with a yellowish tint has been used to depict Gattu’s life and his bleak future.
For the first twenty five minutes or so, the film is devoid any color but once the sequences of Gattu sneaking into school begin, that changes. And, rightly so, because a good education indicates a brighter future. The scenes where the school children finally manage to unlock the terrace and Gattu proves his prowess include a variety of shots, especially top-angle shots and the blue skies certainly help soothe your eyes.
The film’s strength most definitely lies in it’s screenplay which not only make you want to go back to school and play a game or two, but include scenes that most people can relate to. Be it the one when Gattu fakes a stomach ache and he’s made to gulp Pudina hara to the scene when he explains to his friends that the school is under a threat by terrorists, they all make you leap with joy. You find yourself becoming a child when you find yourself quietly mouthing a popular Hindi lesson, his classmate narrates.
Naresh Kumar as his chacha has also pulled off his role as the oppressive uncle successfully but his character too has been humanly portrayed with shades of grey and is God – fearing. Most endearing though are Gattu’s classmates who’s names I’m afraid, I don’t know, their friendship is exceptionally endearing and will make you long for a reunion. Be it the class nerd to the shy boy who’s school clothes Gattu steals, they all represent the varied classmates we’ve had at some point in school. Gattu’s co-worker, Sulaiman, (Mohit) at his uncle’s workshop is disabled and doesn’t have much of a part, sadly he’s been reduced to nothing but a submissive sidekick. Apart from a few clichés here and there and the first odd 30 minutes which drag, the film is a cinematic masterpiece.
The film doesn’t have any songs per say but the rustic background score by Sandesh Shandilya resonates with you as you try to remember it after the film. Hats off to the film’s director, Rajan Khosa who directed this children’s film, produced by The Children’s Film Society of India and for making a crisp film that is not only relevant to our times but is also entertaining. It’s no wonder then that the film earned accolades at international film festivals, some of them including the prestigious 62nd Berlin Film festival.
Don’t mistake this film for a children’s film. Shed your inhibitions and give yourself a break by watching this lighthearted sensitive film.
Verdict: Drag the kids in your family for this one, they will be rooting for Gattu throughout.