If there’s one Indian director whose films seem straight out of a novel, it has to be the man who’s won us over with gems like Iqbal and Dor. It isn’t just because of Nagesh Kukunoor’s storytelling skills but his eye for the tiniest of detail. He weaves them so beautifully in his stories. There’s something equally majestic and dramatic about the backdrop he places them in. The settings have a character of their own. His latest title Dhanak looks like the kind of film straight out a children’s novel. Fairy tale, dream-like, magical and deeply satisfying.
I was surprised or maybe not, when I read that the film was novelized into a book. A first for an Indian film, I guess. Good writers are a dying breed in the Hindi film industry. There’s immense respect then for someone like him who manages to surprise each time with a unique story.
Dhanak is a story of young, orphaned siblings Pari (Hetal Gada) and Chhotu (Krrish Chhabria) who set out on a journey, with a dream in their heart, oblivion to whether they’d eventually realise it. But set out nevertheless, with the hope that they would. It’s the strangers they meet along the way and the trust they put in them, that’s instrumental in the kids’ journey. How Pari and Chhotu look at the world through their eyes, is what makes this film an endearing one. It’s hard to believe a world like that exists but they make you believe it does. That’s the power of their performances.
The 8 and 10-year olds Chhotu and Pari are a delight to watch. But the little boy seemed more natural of the two. The two shoulder the film out and out, never missing a moment. They keep us humoured with their Shah Rukh and Salman stories and jokes along the way.
Dhanak is lush visual delicacy, courtesy cinematographer Chirantan Das, who majestically, captures the land of sand and sun. Both Rajasthan and its music have a character of their own and breathe color and meaning into the title, which means a ‘rainbow.’
The film won various awards and accolades at international film festivals and is one of the best this year has to offer. Watch it if you still haven’t.
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