Take a Ride with Three Child Actors between Innocence & Experience at Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival 2018
The scene of Apu and Durga running through a sprawling field of ‘dancing’ kash flowers in the soft golden sunlight of autumn to catch their first glimpse of a moving train in Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, is an ultimate picture of innocence and simplicity in a rural world of harsh realities and grim experiences.
Apu’s journey from his inner innocence to the outer world of experience is a micro picture of the macro conflict between innocence and experience in the real. Since the release of Pather Panchali six decades ago, the underlying conflict between these two different human emotions seems to have inspired the stories of several films irrespective of languages and across geographies.
One of such films is Deep Choudhury’s Alifa, a 2017 release. The winner of a National Film Award for the ‘Best Debut Film of a Director’ in 2017, the film explores the existential crisis of rural migrants in an unabashedly capitalistic, materialistic urban India through the naked eyes of the innocent child protagonist named Alifa.
Selected for screening at the Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival 2018, Alifa shows the titular character’s gradual exposure to the bleak world of experience through the conspiracy of furious nature and ill fate. The constant soil erosion by the River Brahmaputra uproots Alifa and her parents from the village and throws them into a quandary for livelihood in the urban landscape where they fall prey to double standards of environmentalism.
Alifa is a curious, introspective, hard-working girl with a zeal for education and the things required for normal, healthy upbringing of a child. Her internal monologues of childlike innocence in the form of questions and ruminations make a bold commentary on the subtle conflicts between humans and wildlife, urban settlement and nature, opportunists and destitute migrants as well.
The child character, Alifa’s heart-rending journey from innocence to experience is the crux of Deep Choudhury’s directorial debut that brings Assam’s critical socio-economic issues to the fore. Jaya Seal playing the child actor’s mother is a must watch for her powerhouse performance.
Based on the theme of innocence vs experience, Soukarya Ghosal’s Rainbow Jelly is the other film selected for screening on Sunday, 24th June at #HBFF2018. Unlike Alifa, Rainbow Jelly shows the child protagonist Ghoton on an emotional roller-coaster ride between the real world of experience and the fairy-tale realm of innocence.
Played by a real-life autistic child named Mahabrata Basu, Ghoton is an orphan with dreams and fantasies. He sweats the whole day in obedience to the commands of his maternal uncle who he is left with. He buys groceries, cooks for the uncle and cleans utensils but he himself eats at a nearby tea stall. His only escape from the daily ordeals in real life is his quest for ‘Jaker Dhan’ (whatever his father has left for him) in some fairy tale-like world.
One night a fairy godmother enters Ghoton’s life, and sets him on a reverse journey from harsh experience to innocence and fun. Soukarya Ghosal’s Rainbow Jelly is a must watch for the child actor’s heart-winning performance and the maternal uncle with speech defect played by Kaushik Sen. Those who have watched Loadshedding starring the National Film Award-winning Riddhi Sen should not miss Rainow Jelly.
One more film having a child actor in the lead, though not protagonist, is Parambrata Chatterjee’s Sonar Pahar which will be premiered at the Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival 2018. The not-yet-released film celebrates the union of experience and innocence in the form of an inexplicable bond between a 70-year-old, grey-haired lady and a 7-year-old, free-spirited boy.
Tanuja plays the protagonist named Upama who lives alone in an old house. She is in a state of embitterment as her differences with her only son have strained their relationship. The little, innocent boy named Bitlu appears as a breath of fresh air in Upama’s embittered world of experience. Upama makes friends with him, attains her second childhood and embarks on a journey to Sonar Pahar, a new imaginary world of innocence, holding the child’s hand. Don’t miss the premiere at #HBFF2018.