Saturday, September 30, 2006

A wonderful short animation film, and a modest longer "nothing" movie

Day two at the South Asian Film Festival here in Seattle, and I was able to stay for only one of the evening sessions.

A long time ago, in the early/mid eighties, I remember going to movies in Bangalore, and most of them were preceded with short animation films, mostly on national integration and suchlike. The films were rather sloppily made, but always had catchy music (anyone remember "bela, gulab, juhi, champa, chameli...phool hain anek kintu maala sirf ek hain"?). I actually fell in love with short animation films then. But the fabulous short films of Pixar are what really made me appreciate how much could be packed in to so little.

Here at ISAFF there was a wonderful little short film, and this time from India. Sai Paranjpye films had put together a short children’s' film called Chakachak, which was a "heart warming" film about environmental awareness. The animation was decent, but the music (put together by the always excellent Three brothers and a violin, and sung unmistakably by Usha Uthup) was excellent, and went perfectly with the animation.

The message of course, with little kids on screen, was that we are destroying the earth, and we cannot let it happen.

Very nice, and I hope movie halls in India start screening these shorts before movies, like Pixar films often show here in the US. We need to see more short animation films from India.

***********

Man pushcart was a rather interesting Pakistani-American film, of the type I classify as "nothing films". A nothing film is not a film with no content. It's a film where nothing seems to happen; yet you are very impressed with the tale being told. This is about a Pakistani immigrant, Ahmad, who sells donuts, coffee and bagels from a pushcart in New York. Just a nobody selling stuff, but they have lives and stories also. Here, he is a former Pakistani rock star, now in poverty in NYC, selling breakfast, and working desperately hard (selling coffee during the day, porn during the night) to make enough to buy his own push cart. He has a life, some tragedies, an almost relationship, recognition by a rich Pakistani who identifies Ahmad as the former singer, and then makes Ahmad paint his house. Tragic, ironic, funny, and with nothing in it.

A rather charming movie. Most of the actors are not professional, but do a good job (particularly Ahmed, the lead). Some of the actors did fall short though. One of the characters was a Pakistani guy who sells Ahmed the pushcart. The only problem was that this guy spoke Hindi/Urdu with an almost Mallu accent. Now, I'd like to meet a Pakistani who speaks Urdu with a Malayalee accent. (Looks like I'm right, I looked the actor up on IMDB, and it's Panicker Upendran, a Malayalee name if there ever was one).

But I'm not complaining. More power to films of this kind.

6 comments:

Hiren said...

My son attended a short film making animation course three months ago and it was an exciting experience for him.

J.krishnamurthy's schools also teach love for nature.

The movie seems intersting.

Sunil said...

very interesting....how old is your son, Hiren?

It's not just love for nature that's important. We forget that we are a part of nature, and view it as "us" and "nature". Education, to me, is incomplete without instilling these little but obvious facts.

Chandra said...

You are right, Upendran Panicker is my dad and he is Malayalee. He is from Kerala, it's funny...I didn't even know he had acted in this movie.

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