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Film Review 3 – THE BLUE UMBRELLA (2005) (Children)

January 5, 2009

Mad Professor Marks: 9 out of 10! (Where are India’s Children films???)

CHATRI CHOR aka THE BLUE UMBRELLA is a beautiful children film by Vishal Bhardwaj depicting the life of Biniya, a ten-year old girl from an idyllic mountain village in North India, which one day trades her lucky charm, a bear claw necklace, for a pretty, frilly Japanese blue umbrella, the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. The film is based on the beloved novela by the same name written by veteran writer Ruskin Bond who has given India some of her best children stories.

In a village where the richest man is shopkeeper Nandkishore Khatri, an Ebenezer Scrooge goes Himalaya-like miser, brilliantly performed by Pankaj Kapoor, the occasional visit by a bus of tourists is already a major event. Nandkishore has a weakness for pickles and is well-known for swindling children off their little possessions. He does that by giving free sweets and then claiming their possesions like binoculars if they cannot pay back the imposed credits. Apart from selling sweets and biscuits to children, he sells Coca Cola to tourists, warm, as there is no refrigerator.

As Nandkishore’s weakness is his unsatisfaction, he becomes envious of the umbrella and plots a plan to steal it.

Pankaj Kapoor gives such an outstaning performance in this film that it needs to be made very clear: Due to the success of Bollywood youngster Shahid Kapoor Pankaj Kapoor is nowadays often referred to as “Shahid Kapoor’s father”. Wait a moment. Shahid Kapoor, and I am sure he will be the first one to agree with that, is still “Pankaj Kapoor’s son” and not the other way round. Pankaj Kapoor is without a doubt one of India’s best actors and fortunately could been talked into rejoining the film industry in Vishal Bhardwaj’s MAQBOOL after decades of theatre performances only.

In a recent interview director Vishal Bhardwaj who is currently busy with his his new film KAMEENAY starring Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Amole Gupte, commented that THE BLUE UMBRELLA is actually not enough story for a feature film and that he actually should have made it into a short film.

I couldn’t agree less. THE BLUE UMBRELLA is a subtle and engaging examination of man’s desires, materialism and its relations to happiness shown on the example of village in a hill state like Uttranjal or Himachal Pradesh. As somebody who has lived for three years at the lap of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, I was able to appreciate the poignant humour in Ruskin Bond’s observations as well as the authentic recreation of this observations by Vishal Bhardwaj. Besides composing an absolutely brilliant score with lyrics crafted by Gulzar, Vishal Bhardwaj has given India with THE BLUE UMBRELLA one of his best children films.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2009 3:29 pm

    thanks for recommending it, sounds interesting…

  2. Mad Professor permalink*
    March 1, 2009 6:19 am

    Neha from Delhi sent this comment on Vishal Bhardwaj’s first children film MAKDEE (2002) starring Shabana Azmi as Makdee the Witch:

    “Makdee is an eventful story of an orphaned pair of twin sisters Chunni and Munni, their friends and the roosters of an ill-tempered butcher, present for constant companionship. In a playful mix of varied emotions – humour, fears, surprise and awe, the story unfolds as the fearful Munni, in sharp contrast to her firebrand twin sister Chunni, gets captured by the local’ chudail’ (a female demon) residing in the infamous haunted house situated in the suburbs of the village. Gutsy and gullible at the same time, little Chunni decides to bring her sister back from the ‘evil’ clutches of the so-called spectre only to unearth certain realities about their village that leave the innocent village folk in great awe and of course, an increased love for Chunni, their most famed brat, adamant at ‘haunting’ them forever!
    A film that compels you to view the world through children’s eyes.”


  3. Mad Professor permalink*
    March 1, 2009 6:29 am

    Check out:

    The Blue Umbrella vs. Taare Zameen Par from the Blog 101 Dreams.



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