Starring: Mohammad Samad, Jayanta Das
Directed by Rajan Khosa
There’s something deceptively simple and austere about the frames of Gattu. Rajan Khosa tells the story of a destitute child in an unhurried, measured manner. But behind all the stillness and frugality lies the genuine gush of emotions you feel for the lead character, Gattu. No mawkish melodrama here; its sensitivity and a wry sense of humour bring the film alive.
Gattu is a child abandoned by his parents, brought up by a stern but kind uncle, lives in the company of precocious street kids, does odd jobs and loves a little sheep who he feeds milk. He wants dearly to attend a school and is obsessed with flying kites. In the skies of the small town of Roorkee, one black kite, called Kaali, has been soaring high, defeating all comers. Gattu’s aim is to bring it down. There is no black or white in Khosa’s world, no outright villains or heroes. A disadvantaged child never becomes an object of pity; rather, you admire his aggression, sharp mind, spirit and survival instincts.
Half the battle is won with great casting. The unknown faces feel real. Mohammad Samad as Gattu is especially winsome with his infectious smile. Be it fighting with his uncle, helping the local tailor send a note to his lover, getting excited over an anda curry treat, force-drinking Pudin Hara or doing some uncalled-for detective work, he ensures the audience warms up to him. The end is like a dream come true. Unbelievable for cynics, but always possible in a child’s world.