Verdict: A light-hearted movie with heavily relevant issues.

Nila Madhab Panda is known for his cutting-edge and socially relevant movies. He takes satire, comedy, and music to make very subtle social comments that subconsciously hit you while you enjoy his new movie. After movies like I am Kalam and Jalpari, the National Award winning director is back with another movie. With a child protagonist, Halkaa deals with the age-old “tradition” that is open defecation.

What’s Halkaa About:

Halkaa revolves around Pichku (Tathastu), a boy living in one of the oldest slums in Delhi. Pichku, unlike others, is uncomfortable with defecating in the open but his father (Ranvir Shorey) forcibly asks him to follow it like everyone else. A ray of hope comes with a government official who is granting aid for making toilets in the slum area. His dad, however, has some other motives with the money that Pichku thinks will be used to make his own private toilet.

What Works:

Halkaa is a very interesting movie both because of the story and its treatment. It is a typical Nila Madhab movie with a realistic approach and real locations. The film never makes you feel that it is a different world than yours, sans glamour it actually takes you to places that the maker wants you to see. Satire has always been the key element of Panda’s movies and this piece is no different. It is wrapped up in so many layers, so well, that it is kind of difficult to understand whether the parody was on purpose or not.

The casting of the film is on point with excellent actors like Ranvir Shorey, Paoli Dam, Tathastu and Kumud Mishra. They have owned their characters. The music of the film has been given by ShankarEhsaanLoy and the compositions are enjoyable, especially the title song. The movie sets up slowly and touched upon issues like patriarchy, the gaps between social classes, the corruption in the government system, amongst a few. It doesn’t hit hard; rather sinks in slow and steady.

What Could Have Been Better:

The movie has an atypical concept and a unique style so there are no flaws per se. A few of the scenes do seem stretched while the plot is being set up initially.

Why You Should Watch:

Halkaa demonstrates many issues related to open defecation, basic hygiene and child labor, things that come as a given for all the people reading this right now. It portrays the imaginations and dreams of a 10-year-old kid imaginatively and the world that is having difficulties understanding it. It is a nice, light and realistic film which makes for a good watch.