Cast: Pankaj Kapur, Shreya Sharma
Direction: Vishal Bharadwaj
Rating: Three stars
Adapted from a story by Bond, Ruskin Bond, Vishal Bharadwaj’s second confection for children after Makdee, has its passages of charm, visual aplomb and performances that are as lively as an amusement park.
If Blue Umbrella is occasionally bogged down, it’s because of the tempo which is like watching clouds pass by in slow motion. You do tend to pack off into Siestaland.. but then you perk up to go with the bagatelle. The centre of attraction is the eponymous chhatri acquired from a Japanese tourist by a shepherd girl (Shreya Sharma) in a Himachal hilltown.
A shrewish school marm covets it as if it were the Kohinoor. And a meanie-beanie shopkeeper (Pankaj Kapur) – addicted to conning children – must possess it or perish.
Frankly, the muslin-thin plot would have been perfect for a short feature (say 30 minutes) but then, it wouldn’t have found a theatrical outlet. Undoubtedly, it has a warm sensibility that keeps you engaged – in the tradition of Iranian cinema which takes on micro-issues (like a child losing a pair of shoes), elevating them into mega-social comments.
Bharadwaj’s Umbrella comes pretty close to the spirit of that tradition and is limned by bravura performances by Pankaj Kapur and Shreya Sharma, surely meriting a matinee out with the family.