I feel strange confessing that a movie about toilets moved me to tears, but Nila Madhab Panda’s “Halkaa” did just that. This sweet film makes a big impact. Read on to know why you should watch it.
Two slum-dwelling children- Pichku (Tathastu) and Gopi (Aryan Preet), feel ashamed to relieve themselves out in the open, as is the practice with most people around them. Along with a local healer (Kumud Mishra), they devise a strategy to build a toilet of their own.
When the government launches a scheme under the “Clean India/ Swacch Bharat” campaign to provide money for making toilets, the children’s hopes rise. Unfortunately many hurdles must be crossed, both bureaucratic and private, before they achieve their dream.
Tathastu and Aryan Preet in a still from the film. Picture courtesy: www.boxofficeindia.co.in
Having a child protagonist is a good move. The film shows how adults in the slum develop an apathy to the issue of private toilets, so they’d rather use money allotted for a toilet, for other purposes. They may have wanted seclusion in their younger days, but have grown accustomed to their situation and require a huge change in mindset. The municipal toilets in the area are in a deplorable condition and people prefer to go outdoors. The condition is even worse for women, who must wake at unearthly hours in the morning to get some privacy.
The youth of our country are spearheading progress and development. Through a child’s perspective, one can see that it takes imagination and an unfettered belief in one’s dream to achieve success in seemingly impossible situations.
The cast is chosen well, with each actor performing to their best. Ranvir Shorey and Paoli Dam as Pichku’s parents are unsurpassed, but the two children also make a strong mark. The supporting cast of Kumud Mishra (Baba), Devender Chaudhry (Parryware Salesman), and Harish Chabbra (corrupt Municipal Corporation Officer) lend a strong hand. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is very catchy and well-placed.
The story and editing are slightly patchy as certain plot points aren’t explained well or glossed over. At some places the plot skips and jumps, but not in an obtrusive manner. There is some obvious governmental propaganda and prominent product placement, but even that is acceptable when the message is so positive.
“Halkaa” is an educational film with many heartwarming moments. The relationship of the mother and son, the carefree nature of children, the bond of friendship and the simple joys of life shown in the film, are real and very touching. The movie hasn’t been advertised much, but I highly recommend everyone watch it, especially children. It’s a hidden gem!
Film Rating: 4/5
*Featured image courtesy: www.youtube.com
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