Siddharth has been showing at Cinema Nova for a while but I only just managed to catch it this morning. Monday is my Cinema Nova day because it's only $6 to see a movie all day till 4pm, and even then it's only $9 after 4pm every Monday. Not knowing anything about the movie I prepared myself to perhaps be slightly bored because this was going to be a story about a lost boy whose family is searching for him literally on foot. This was not going to be any Liam Neeson action packed Hollywood film about abduction like 'Taken'. How was I going to be entertained by one man's search for his son as he walked the length and breadth of India?
I can tell you now that you need to see this film. The reality of its message (even though the director does not preach but simply let's the story unfold) left a hole in my chest to contemplate. Watching the hopelessness of a family laid bare before your eyes, a family who is not technologically savvy (even though they do have a mobile phone), who do not have a picture of their son but a verbal description that fits any 12 year old boy in all of Delhi is frustrating to watch. You soon come to the realisation that it's the way it is among the poor who don't have the advantages of education, finance or connection.
Canadian Director Richie Mehta came about making this movie after he met a man by chance who asked him if he knew where Dongri was. When asked why he wanted to know about Dongri, the man told him that he thought it was where his lost son might be after he had been kidnapped.
Mahendra Saini (Rajesh Tailang) sends his 12 year old son to work away in a factory for a month in order to help out with the family finances while they go through some hard times. He is due back for Diwali festivities. Mahendra himself works as a zipper fixer-upper. He walks the streets of New Delhi fixing zippers on clothes, handbags and anywhere else zippers are used. He carries a loudspeaker over his shoulder and announces his presence to the general public who might want to utilise his services by speaking into the microphone as he walks around with his bag filled with spare parts and tools of the trade.
Diwali comes and goes and still there is no sign of his son Siddharth who has promised his little sister he will be home in time to celebrate with her. A couple of days later the reality of Siddharth's disappearance hits home and the search begins to bring him home at all cost. You are absorbed into the life of Mahendra and his wife Suman (Tannishtha Chatterjee) and taken into a small space they call home. You will feel their hopelessness and the impossibilities that lie ahead of them with no means to support their quest to find their son. If you're like me, you will want to walk into that screen to hand him over a few dollars that would take him a year to earn and help him find his son given your wider experience of the world.
The actors in this film will move you with their interpretation of a family who have lost a child and cannot fathom where he might be. Though poor and uneducated, Mahendra (the father) is regal and elegant in his honesty and moral barometer. Suman (the mother) is quietly strong, courageous and determined. You will feel their frustration as they are locked in by their circumstances and station in life that limits their possibilities. Their hopelessness will be your hopelessness, their sorrow yours as you follow them on their journey, gripped by the sheer powerful portrayals and content of the film. For me this is a no brainer 8 out of 10.