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Upperstall Review




Hindi, Drama, 2010, Color

Baby Kusum was a child star. Baby Kusum achieved tremendous success. Baby Kusum was a Boy born as Jerry, christened Master Jai for the movies and rechristened Baby Kusum to play a girl. Baby Kusum is now 20 and still searching for his identity . . .

You're pleasantly surprised when you see a Bollywood company (White Feather Arthouse Films) has ventured into making small budget, art house, experimental films and hats off to them for backing a film like Pankh. But sadly, in the final analysis it is yet another case of having to applaud the effort and intent but not really the film.

OK, no doubt, Pankh is wild, ballsy, dark and messed up. An identity crisis forced upon a little boy (Maradona) by his ambitious mother (Lillette Dubey, scary) wanting him to become a child star in the movies is the interesting theme explored here. It goes back and forth mapping his experiences being dressed up as a female child artist, winning a National award, being horribly teased by children his age as a 'hijra' (a eunuch) and on growing up being forced once again to now become a star actor, when acting is the last thing he wants to do. He also comes face to face with another upcoming actress (Sanjeeda Shaikh, dubbed) whose mother (Asha Sachdev, authentically loud) is forcing stardom down her throat in spite of her wanting to study further, even going down the couch casting path to get her that elusive big break. This interspersed with his fantasy of a gorgeous actress (Bipasha Basu), who is a constant presence in his fictional world, reminding him of the female within and meeting his childhood buddy, who always thought he was a girl,and is now a stuntman(???) in the movies as well. As you can see, Pankh tries to be quite a complex film, which should be a good thing.

But ultimately, Pankh is also too heavy, too stark and too disturbing a watch for us to go along with and feel for its characters. They come across as too twisted and though there is a hint of a bittersweet life for all of them, the less than average performances and the over the top darkness that surrounds them does lead to a disconnect and disinterest in the events unfolding on screen. Yes, it is very interestingly shot but at times seems like we are being bullied into liking it. Excessive use of expletives and repeated crude references to the supposed filth infested way of making our movies does get on your nerves. The film does have its fair share of really shocking moments like the end, but you have had quite enough by then to really care. The overtly abstract approach and the weird way in which everyone speaks further bring the film watching experience down.

With Pankh coming on the heels of the eminently watchable LSD, it does appear that Bollywood and our censor boards are definitely coming of age. Let's wait now for a few more, slightly audience friendly enterprises and we might just have an alternate movie making revolution right here in our own backyard.

Upperstall review by: flyingrodent

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