Mumbai, March 9 (IANS) "Sikandar" is a film set in Kashmir and revolves around two teenagers, but director Piyush Jha is quick to brush aside rumours that the story is similar to the rags-to-riches tale of Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire".
Essentially, he says, the two movies no doubt convey the same message - fighting against odds and living up to expectations.
"Of course, the stories are completely different while the genres too don't have any similarity whatsoever. However, when it comes to telling a tale about uplift of the downtrodden and liberation of young minds, they are similar," Piyush told IANS.
"The message communicated in the end is the same for both the films. The underlining theme is about fighting against the odds, living up to expectations and coming out with a clear conscience," he added.
British filmmaker Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" is about three children growing up together in a Mumbai slum and how one of them goes on to win a television quiz show. "Sikandar" tells the story of a teenaged boy in Kashmir, who loses his parents to militancy. Parzaan Dastur, who played the cute Sikh boy in 1998 hit "Kuch Kuch Hota Hain", essays the main lead in the forthcoming movie.
"Sikandar Raza is a 14-year-old schoolboy in Kashmir whose parents were killed by militants when he was just four years old. All that he desires now is the well-being and happiness of his foster parents. Also, he is extremely passionate about football," Jha explained.
He stressed that "Sikandar" isn't really a film about children and for children.
The movie also features young Ayesha Kapur of "Black" fame, R. Madhavan and Sanjay Suri.
"My protagonists here are not exactly kids. They are 14-year-olds who are in a growing-up phase. The characters played by Parzaan and Ayesha are teenagers who have a mind of their own. Yes, they are a little vulnerable but still grown up enough to distinguish between right and wrong and make correct decisions," Jha said.
The director added that "Sikandar" belongs to the suspense thriller genre.
"Generally with teenagers, one makes a children's film but I wanted to make a believable suspense thriller set in Kashmir. Parzaan and Ayesha are the heroes of my film and the story revolves completely around them."
So where does that leave Madhavan and Sanjay Suri in "Sikandar"? Jha once again refers to "Slumdog Millionaire" to answer that question.
"Would 'Slumdog Millionaire' have been complete without the characters of Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan? They were not the central leads but they weren't on the periphery of the story either. Same is the case with Madhavan and Sanjay. They allow children to occupy their own space under the sun but play an important part of the narrative nevertheless," he said.