Direction: Manav Kaul
Actors: Kumud Mishra, Trimala Adhikari, Suraj Kabadwal, Nanu
Manav Kaul, a renowned theatre writer-director known for his experimental plays, is a self-confessed Wes Anderson fan. This shows in his debut feature film, Hansa, the touching story of a young boy, his sister and their family's circumstances.
Shot in Kafura, a picturesque village in Uttarakhand, Kaul incorporates Anderson-esque cut-ins and lopsided frames into his film from time to time, creating a sense of quirkiness.
Although the newcomer Kabadwal (discovered through a workshop held in the village) is an impish boy of seven, the story is focused on his elder sister, Cheekoo (Adhikari), a plucky young 'un with impressive retorting skills.
The plot seems similar to the Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone (2010); an absent father, a curious older sister and a house that the family stands to lose if they don't pay their dues in time. However, soon the focus shifts to the exploits of the happy-go-lucky Hansa and his best friend, the adorably geeky Raaku (Nanu). Hansa touches on themes like family life, hardship, sexual abuse, abandonment and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, only the last one seemed to be explored to the point of satisfaction.
The cast, made up largely of Kaul's regular collaborators from the Mumbai theatre scene, does a noteworthy job. Mishra plays a sleazy moneylender but Adhikari steals the show with her act as a rebellious, responsible and vulnerable teenager.