Direction: Rajan Khosa
Actors: Mohammad Samad, Jayanta Das
Gattu, directed by Rajan Khosa, is an effortlessly charming, bittersweet film about a little boy obsessed with kite-flying.
Nine-year-old Gattu lives in Roorkee, Uttarakhand. He is an orphan. He works in his uncle's garbage-recycling business. At one point, his uncle tells Gattu that he bought him just like he buys kabaad (scrap).
Gattu's days are spent amidst trash and flies, but the film's beauty is that it doesn't ask us to pity him. Instead Khosa celebrates his chutzpah and ambition. Like the kites he loves, Gattu soars.
Much of this is accomplished because Mohammad Samad, who plays Gattu, is simply irresistible. There isn't a false or straining-for-cute note in his portrayal of a boy who relies on the only thing he has - street smarts. Gattu lies and steals to get his way. He sneaks in as a student at the local school only because it has the highest terrace in town and he want to fly a kite there. There's a lovely, comical moment when the students break into 'Saare jahaan se achcha' and Gattu looks bewildered because he's never heard the song before.
Into the gentle humour Khosa weaves the inherent sadness of Gattu's life. School makes him curious - when, he asks his uncle, is my birthday. The uncle doesn't even know his own, so he asks Gattu to pick any date he likes.
The film does become a little far-fetched as Gattu, an illiterate, continues to fool his teachers and spins an unbelievable yarn for his classmates. But Khosa gives it a fable-like texture so that you don't mind too much when reality takes a backseat.
Gattu is small in scale, but this is a film with heart.
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