india

Addressing issues

Nila Madhab Panda’s
Halkaa’s
trailer opens with child protagonist Pichku’s dream of a toilet of his own where he can enjoy his privacy. While the child’s dream matches with the current government’s much-publicised vision of cleanliness, the director asserts that the film’s timing with the current political narrative was not planned. “It is not part of some government policy but an independent story. As it is related to the idea of cleanliness, the government wanted to come and do something for it and later got associated with it,” says the National Award winning director, who was in Delhi recently to launch the trailer.

Winner of Grand Prix for Best Film at the Kinolub Festival for Children and Youth in Poland and Grand Prix De Montreal at the 21st Montreal International Children’s Film Festival,
Halkaa
is about two slum children’s aspirations and their fight against open defecation.

Though most of his films have some pertinent issues woven into the storyline, he prefers not to call them social films.

“I don’t think my films deliberately talk about issues. I am interested in stories around me and it is about how I craft my narratives.
Halkaa
is about us and it is today’s story. So it is bound to have some pertinent issues.”

Be it
I am Kalam
or
Kadvi Hawa
, his films reflect the realities and reject the usual causal narrative of plot and climax. “I am a storyteller. My craft is very simple. I am very close to humanity and I don’t heighten drama or evoke fantasy. This way, I remain close to society. If
Kadvi Hawa
made you cry and
I am Kalam
brought a smile on your face, this will make you both laugh and cry,” promises Panda.

In-depth knowledge

He shot the film at a slum near Pragati Madan. His art of shooting on-location with non-actors and documentary-style camera movements reflect his experience on the ground.

“I have in-depth knowledge of various issues like climate change. I have made many documentaries and that helps me in the kind of films that I make.”

He is amongst a handful of filmmakers who make children films. “It is always a learning experience to work with children because their emotions are pure and inspiring. I showed it to children in Poland and they could relate to the problem of children in Delhi.”

With industry still struggling for home grown content for children, Panda believes there is a lack of understanding of market along with fear of taking risks.

“There is less content for children in India as we don’t take the risk to make films for them. We want our money to be safe and there is hardly any understanding of childhood as we only think about ourselves.”

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