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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Children’s Film Festival begins its flight with Gattu

Rajan Khosa’s Gattu opened the 17th edition of the biennial International Children’s Film Festival of India last night.

bollywood Updated: Nov 15, 2011 15:07 IST
Gautaman Bhasakaran
Gautaman Bhasakaran
Hindustan Times

Rajan Khosa’s Gattu opened the 17th edition of the biennial International Children’s Film Festival of India last night.

An unusual plot of competing paper kites, Gattu is structured around an orphan boy, unlettered and impoverished, who dreams of ruling the skies by “vanquishing” Kali. Which has been a sort of king triumphing over every other kite trying to cut its string. A little too long at 90 minutes, which may find it difficult to hold a child’s attention, Gattu though spins and loops towards a neat surprise.

Produced by the Mumbai-based Children’s Film Society, (which is organising the Festival along with the Andhra Pradesh Government), Gattu is one among the 150-odd movies from around 40 countries to unroll in the coming days.

Gautaman Bhaskaran
Gautaman Bhaskaran
Preceding the inaugural movie was a splendid two-hour cultural extravaganza, which though was punctuated by speeches, boringly long and often repetitive. Compered by actress Diya Mirza with a touch of allure, the highlight was an extraordinary performance on drums by little Stephen Samuel (barely seven or eight years old), whose solo and "jugalbandi’ with renowned maestro Sivamani left the evening’s audience absolutely spellbound.

Dances, particularly the one performed on pots (!) by very young girls, and a gymnastic act set to lilting music, were enthralling.

With Hyderabad as the permanent venue of the Festival now in question – there was an attempt to move it to North-east India this year – the State Government would in all probability put up a show par excellence. The Chief Minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy, while opening the Festival assured us all that a spanking new structure could be ready on a 10-acre plot by the next edition in 2013.

Beyond this issue of venue lies a greater impediment, the lack of good cinema for children. Despite subsidies and grants by organisations like the Children’s Film Society of India, not many intelligent films for the young are popping out of the cans.

When the Society’s Chairperson, actress-director Nandita Das, made a plea for better children’s fare, she was merely reiterating what her predecessors had urged. I have heard Amol Palekar, Jaya Bachchan and Sai Parajpye, heading the Society at different times, talk about the need to produce quality cinema for children. But barring a few recent exceptions like I Am Kalam and Stanley Ka Dabba, efforts have been cursory in a country that brags about producing the largest number of movies year after year.

Let us also not forget that Satyajit made some brilliant cinema for the young, although he chose not to slot it within any narrow confines of description. One supposes that in the final analyses cinema made with children in mind must also appeal to the older viewer. Therein lays the trick of filling up the cinemas.

(Gautaman Bhaskaran will be covering the International Children’s Film Festival for Hindustan Times)

First Published: Nov 15, 2011 15:02 IST

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