A Triple Sundae of Punch in the Guts
One of the 3 Indian movies to be nominated for an Oscar in over 50 years since the 'Best Foreign Film' category was created, this movie stands out as a tribute to the city of Bombay that houses Bollywood. Brilliantly shot, on a shoe string budget it brings together the 3 aspects of the city we all love and admire - its colors, its chaos and its children.
Brilliant camera-work, direction and cinematography clubbed with heart rendering performances from Nana Patekar, Shafiq Syed and Raghuvir Yadav make the movie a 'must-watch' for me. The decrepitude of the city with drugs, prostitution, lawlessness, corruption and apathy of the society towards the kids comes out brilliantly in the film.
Shafiq's near flawless portrayal of young Krishna / Chaipau showcases the determination of innocence.
The film could have done with some editing and retakes. There are a couple of poorly shot, distracting scenes in which the young actors accidentally stare into the camera, but that is a minor and pardonable flaw, in my eye.
The only problem that I see is that it labors a lot to set up the universe and does not move the story forward too much. This is more than made up for by the fantastic setting up of the universe. Another point I would like to make is that it tries to address too many minor themes, which does not do as much justice to the themes as one would have liked. The movie is Hugo, Requiem for a dream, Kaalia (1981) and much more wrapped into one.
Mira, however, does not let you lose sight of Krishna and his struggle to get back to his "mulak", which to me is a testament to her film making abilities.