Director Richie Mehta follows his award-winning debut feature Amal with this powerful and heart-rending tale about a poor Delhi street merchant desperately searching for his missing young son.
Contemporary World Cinema
In New Delhi, twelve-year-old Siddharth is sent by his father Mahendra to work in a trolley factory in another province to help support their family, which includes his mother Suman and sister Pinky. Siddharth is supposed to come home in one month for Diwali. When he fails to return or call, his distraught father begins a desperate search to find his missing son.
A chain-wallah by trade (he fixes zippers in the street), Mahendra (Rajesh Tailang) is faced with many obstacles: he has no money, he's illiterate, and, perhaps most heartbreaking of all, he has no photograph of his son. The authorities, who scold an already guilt-ridden man for allowing his son to become a child labourer, believe that Siddharth may have been abducted and trafficked; Mahendra is warned that in a population of more than a billion people, a kidnapped child is virtually untraceable after two days.
Director Richie Mehta deftly brings to life Mahendra's moving, tangled, and often futile-seeming journey with a neorealist touch that transforms it into a genuine human portrait. Mehta sets this quest within a hard-working community that is poor in so many ways, yet rich in family and love. Beautifully paced, the film's emotional spectrum is thoughtfully measured, resulting in deeply felt responses that avoid melodrama.
As he did in his remarkable debut film
Amal, Mehta presents us with a modern day
fable about searching — for someone,
and much more. Riddled with mysteries,
Siddharth reminds us that sometimes there
simply are no easy answers. A powerful
story about the ramifications of a single
decision and the limitations that result from
poverty, it underscores that, as India itself
has so often done, in the face of the unspeakable
one must keep moving forward.
AGATA SMOLUCH DEL SORBO