It is interesting to note that in a country that produces nearly a thousand films in a calendar year, most of them with running times over 150 minutes; it was a clever 15 minute feature by a relatively unknown film-maker that made the final list at the Oscar 2005! Writer-editor-director and producer Ashvin Kumar’s short ‘Little Terrorist’ is one of those movies that make a point, and a global one at that, without trying to be pretentious. Indeed, there are moments when you think that the movie is actually unaware of the emphatic statement that it is making.Jamal(Julfuqar Ali) is a 10 year old Pakistani boy who unwittingly crosses over into the Indian border while chasing a ball during a game of cricket. Suspected as a terrorist, Jamal is helped, reluctantly at first, by Bhola(Sushil Sharma)- an orthodox Hindu. Bhola gives him shelter and food, and eventually goes out of his way to safely lead the boy back home. It is this victory of humanity over the exterior differences of caste, country and ideology that touches a chord instantly. Aided by some beautiful Rajasthani compositions, Ashvin manages to create a poignant picture of compassion which permeates dissimilarities. Ashvin has a keen eye for noticing humour in pathos, a quality similar to that of Samira Makhmalbaf(Blackboards). The bittersweet remedy that Bhola’s daughter(Megnaa Mehtta) suggests to hide Jamal’s identity from the Indian soldiers or Jamal’s private laughter at the climax are some of the humane colours that Ashvin paints against the backdrop of the rustic Rajasthan.
In what is a brilliant marketing idea, Ashvin Kumar has tied with Shyam Shroff of Shringar distributors and has made the film available to a large audience. At various multiplexes the film is being shown at the beginning of the regular shows, at no extra cost. And ‘Little Terrorist’ deserves to be seen by an audience, especially in the wake of the many terrorist events that have affected nations in the last few years.Ashvin Kumar mentioned in an interview that ‘Little Terrorist’ is a portfolio-building film for him. Well suffice to say, look out for his big screen debut with Irrfan Khan and Boman Irani!
- Abhishek Bandekar
Note- ‘Little Terrorist’ was nominated at this year’s Academy Awards for the Best Short Film- Live Action.