When a movie without special effects, exotic locations, huge stars and song and dance sequences is released, it tends to be classified in the art film category and is immediately slotted for an intellectual or purely regional audience. Gattu breaks the mould and brings us not only Indian entertainment that will appeal to family audiences but also simple and meaningful cinema.
Rajan Khosa's fable explores the life of a little orphan, Gattu, who lives and works with his chachu (performed by a realistic and pitch-perfect Naresh Kumar) in a scrap recycling yard. Despite his lack of formal education, Gattu is a clever boy who uses his intelligence to lie or steal and therefore be able to buy the necessary material to nurture his passion for kite-flying. Gattu dreams of defeating the best kite-flyer in town, who symbolically flies a black kite and slashes all other flying apprentices down day after day, but whose identity remains a mystery throughout most of the film.When the youngster discovers that the local school's terrace is the highest in town, he uses his street-smartness to sneak out of work everyday, pose as a student in the school and convince other children to join him in a mission to beat Kali the kite... discovering in the meantime that he enjoys school, the meaning of "Satyamev Jayate" and the value of true friendship.
A deeply endearing main character is played by an enormously talented child actor, Mohammad Samad, who could give any adult star a run for their money. Every frame adores him and he shines throughout the simply and subtly filmed story with undeniable panache accompanied by a wonderfully natural crew of fellow children actors. The music throughout the film by Sandesh Shandilya and the background score by K. Sethuraman are both subdued, effective and simply beautiful.
It took several months for me to watch Gattu and it is a film with simplicity that I would not pass the opportunity to watch again. It touches a sensitive variety of subjects such as illiteracy, child labour, education, adult authority over children and ultimately, a soul's resilience and capacity to evolve, even the youngest of them all. Gattu is a short and inspiring tale that will please young and old.
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Director: Rajan Khosa
Produced by: Children's Film Society
Cast: Mohammad Samad, Jayant Das, Naresh Kumar
Cinematography: Satya Rai Nagpaul
Music: Sandesh Shandilya, K Sethuraman