By Subhash K. Jha
Film: "Bumm Bumm Bole"; Cast: Atul Kulkarni, Darsheel Safary, Ziyah Vastani, Rituparna Sengupta; Director: Priyadarshan; Rating: ***
Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi's "Children Of Heaven" comes down to earth in an endearing spiral of the spell-binding and the sensitive.
Let's not get unnecessarily and unjustly nostalgic about the original Iranian film. This remake, done up in shades of terrorism in the idyllic northeast (region unspecified) is so lyrically lush in its visuals and so gently evocative in treatment that the original material is forgotten 10 minutes into the narrative.
A great deal of the credit for the film's immense, intense but toned down impact must go to the children - Darsheel Safary no longer the buck-toothed moppet from "Taare Zameen Par", and little Ziyah Vastani who's quite easily the most delightful new discovery of the year.
Ziyah, in fact, steals many scenes from under her brilliant co-star's nose. If he minds it, he doesn't show it.
Darsheel and little Ziyah create an intangible and secret world of hushed wonderment and discovery that takes the narrative far beyond the precincts of the original fable about an impoverished pair of siblings's desperate but disarming attempt to share a pair of shoes.
Yup, "Bumm Bumm Bole" is quite a 'shoe' stopper. The fable is expanded to accommodate a world filled with pain, pleasure and other emotions that emerge in the journey from innocence to awareness.
Unlike Vishal Bharadwaj's "The Blue Umbrella" or "Children Of Heaven", this film doesn't try to be wise at the children's expense.
Frequently you feel Priyadarshan allowed the children to instinctively empathise with, if not fully understand, the political complications underlining the social issues of poverty and socio-communal solidarity in times of stress and longing.
Unlike other recent parables on children, innocence and violence set in idyllic spots like Santosh Sivan's "Tahaan" and Piyush Jha's "Sikandar", "Bumm Bumm Bole" doesn't forget to be an entertaining story. Priyadrashan, fresh from the triumph of his other socially relevant drama "Kanchivaram", imbues the pale but passionate dusky light of the mountainous locales with oodles of warmth and emotion.
The kids don't take over the show. They just slip into the proceedings like two scoops of ice cream into a ready steady cone. Darsheel shows a definite and reassuring progress as an actor since his debut. His rapport with his screen sister jumps out of the screen and pervades our senses unconditionally. You just want to steal little Ziyah from the screen and take her home.
The two kids are amazingly good. The ever-dependable Atul Kulkarni puts in a supremely credible turn as the harried father who doesn't forget to smile when the kids are around.
Like other fabulous or farcical creations by Priyadarshan, this one too is shot on picture-postcard locations with the cinematographer Selvi and the art director Sabu Cyril adding that extra bit of lyricism to every frame without showing off.
"Bumm Bumm Bole" is a gentle but persuasive piece of work, not just for children -- though certainly about children who learn fast about the harsh realities of life.
The film follows their trail without getting bitter cynical or hysterical. The constantly even tone is a boon. The kids are a blessing. This film is a soft-spoken and delicate piece of cinema. Not to be missed.