White country, black hearts...


Indu Mirani

The Blue Umbrella

Direction: Vishal Bhardwaj

Cast: Pankaj Kapur, Shreya Sharma

Rating: ***

This is one of Vishal Bharadwaj’s simplest films in terms of content and yet his most beautiful. Shot among the snowy Himachal Pradesh landscape, it is about a young girl Biniya (Shreya Sharma), a lovely Japanese blue umbrella she acquires from a tourist and the chain of reactions it unleashes in her small village especially, the jealousy it arouses in the heart of the local tea stall owner Nandkishore Khatri (Pankaj Kapur). Based on Ruskin Bond’s novella with the same name, it is an endearing fable in which the good wins out.

It is also one of Vishal’s more indulgent films as he lovingly and slowly sets up situations, which paint Biniya as all white while Khatri has no redeeming qualities.

Naturally then, when the confrontation between them is set up our sympathies are all with the young girl and so provides for a very satisfying watch.

Vishal Bharadwaj’s use of music too is flawless adding in a great measure to the effectiveness of the story. Sound by Dara Singh and cinematography by Sachin Kumar Krishnan contribute largely too. It is so picture postcard perfect that Himachal Tourism could well use it as their promotional film.

But none of this would have meant a dime if it weren’t for the lead actors who live their parts. Pankaj Kapur deserves every award for a role, which calls for him to be cocky as well as repentant in equal measure.

His joie de vivre when he acquires the umbrella and gaily poses for tourists is just brilliant. As for Shreya Sharma, what a discovery this little girl is. One wishes she would grow up soon so we could see more of her. Don’t miss this gem of a movie.

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