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Hindi, 2000, Color

Kairee narrates the sweet and sour experiences of a ten year old girl brought to her maternal aunt Taani's house due to the loss of her parents. The girl, uprooted from a secure and loving home, struggles to cope with hostilities in her new environment. 'Taanimausi', leaving a barren existence with a brute of a husband, tries single-handedly to preserve the child's innocence and sensitivity as together they face the unpleasantness of an adult world. Taanimausi helps the girl create a world of their own...a world full of love, beauty and hope...a world full of sunshine, woods, streams, peacocks...and a world of raw mangoes.

After 18 long years, Amol Palekar's Kairee finally sees the light of day. The film, based on a renowned Marathi short story by GA Kulkarni was to be produced by the NFDC. But then the NFDC boss called up Amol Palekar and told him that though it was a lovely script, could he make something a little more mainstream and more commercially viable!

Today, Palekar says he is thankful for those 18 years because it gave him much more confidence and much more distance to look at himself with objectivity. Confidence to make other films, films like Daayraa (1996) which was awarded the Grand Prix, Festival du Valenciennes, France, was screened at the Toronto Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Melbourne Film Festival and featured in Time Magazine's list of top ten films of 1996.

Kairee, produced by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India is told entirely from the subjective viewpoint of the girl-child. But though a simple story of two lonely people at a linear narrative level, the film also rediscovers the inner strength of women, a strength that helps the girl to dream and hope against all odds in a male dominated Indian society, a strength that helps her to make a beautiful tomorrow.

In the original story written by Kulkarni, the central character was a boy but Palekar changed that to a little girl which actually according to him made all the difference. 'Take the case of Taanimausi," says Palekar. She accepts things which are denied to her at one level. She doesn't rebel. But she does rebel when it comes to a girl of the next generation. If she had done it for a boy, it would be no different from the way it happens in our society. But if she fights for the girl that adds another dimension to the film," says Palekar.

Newcomers Yogita Deshmukh and Shilpa Navalkar enact the roles of the girl and Taanimausi respectively. For the girl, he was looking for innocence, says Palekar. Not the typical see-how-pretty-I-am type. He just wanted a child who could just be and not act. And that's exactly what Yogita did. He is more than satisfied with the performances of his artistes all of whom have acted but not ACTED. The film has been shot by veteran cinematographer Debu Deodhar whom Palekar says has done a stunning job shooting on location.

Kairee has been extremely well received on the International Festival Scene and is finally being released theatrically a year after completion. Shringar Films, which is distributing the film has in fact always supported the cause of a more sensible and different cinema in India bringing other films like Halo, Bhopal Express, Rockford and Kandukondain Kandukondain to Indian audiences. Palekar says his target audience is sensible people, people looking for something dear to the heart, people looking for a touching, emotional experience...

Kairee, one hears, does just that.

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