Babar Naam Gandhiji is a Must-watch Film on Kolkata Street Child at Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival

Salaam Bombay,  I am Kalam, and Slumdog Millionaire are the most familiar titles among the films on street children in India. While Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay is a documentary-like film on the grim lives of street urchins in seedy slums and lanes of Bombay, I am Kalam is a social welfare film depicting how the success story of former Indian president A P J Abdul Kalam inspires a child from a highway dhaba to make it big in life. The Academy Award winning Slumdog Millionaire is a commercial version of Salaam Bombay.

After the release of I am Kalam in 2011 there was no similar film on street children with a message for society until Babar Naam Gandhiji hit the screens by 2015 end, to the best of my knowledge. Babar Naam Gandhiji (My Father’s Name is Gandhiji) is a Bengali film by Pavel who believes, “Gandhi ji would have been the most relevant personality with his own brand of people’s movement amidst the current political disorder in Bengal.”

Babar Naam Gandhiji starring two leading actors, Parambrata and Koushik Sen, is in the official selection of films for screening at the 2016 Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival (#HBFF2016) to be held from 1st to 3rd July.

HBFF2016, Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival, films on street children, Babar Naam Ganadhiji

Babar Naam Gandhiji, as the name suggests, is an edifying story about how the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi transforms the life of a street child in modern Kolkata. The boy’s journey of transformation begins when he happens to have an encounter with the Father of the Nation through a currency note with Gandhiji’s photo on it. Eventually the boy finds shelter in an NGO where he learns the ideals of Gandhiji.

Is the Kolkata street child’s journey full of events or a walk on the path of roses? Lets wait until the curtain is lifted at the Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival this weekend.

Babar Naam Gandhiji, though scripted in the contemporary scenario and shot in cosmopolitan Kolkata, is not the first Bengali film on street children. Bengal has a legacy of films on street children, including Sathi by Phani Majumdar and Two: A Film Fable by legendary Satyajit Ray.

Sathi (The Companion) was a debut film by Phani Majumdar in 1938. The Bengali version of Street Singer, a Hindi film by the same director, Sathi starring Kanan Devi and Sailen Chowdhury is about two street children growing up together singing on the streets and hoping to make it big in the show world.

Satyajit Ray’s Two: A Film Fable is a 1964 black & white short film in English language with a Bengali setting. Made during the Vietnam War, the short film depicts rivalry between a street child and a child of a rich house through contrast between the music of a flute and the noise of toys. The film without any dialogue was Satyajit Ray’s tribute to the ‘silent film’ genre which he was much fond of.

Lets see what Babar Naam Gandhiji from Bengali Cinema pioneered by legendary filmmakers such as Bimal Roy, Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and Satyajit Ray holds for the audience at the 2016 Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival.

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