'OMG! HOW CAN YOU CALL A BLIND BOY AND HIS SISTER ANNOYING?!'
'Okay okay, I'll call them cute...'
You will read reviews like ‘heart-warming’, ‘cute’, ‘innocent’, ‘natural’, ‘endearing’, ‘brave journey’, ‘restores faith in humanity’ and wonder why no one is saying, ‘exotic India’, ‘made for the festival circuit’, ‘annoying kids’, ‘silly characters’, ‘far-fetched’...
Depending on how politically correct you are, you will either love it because ‘the kids are so cute’ or step out for coffee ever so often, come back and discover that the journey has gone nowhere.
The idea is cute. Blind boy and his sister believe that Shah Rukh Khan will cure the blindness and undertake a journey to meet the star who is at a film shoot in a city far, far away. Yeah, yeah we grew up watching Wizard of Oz, so we know you will meet a cowardly lion, the scarecrow and so on and so forth, and the merry band will then face the man behind the curtain. Unfortunately for this movie, there are no wicked witches or ruby slippers that help make the journey interesting. It is just 'quirky' characters that you might think you will meet when trampling across Rajasthan.
So needlessly quirky, you start noticing that the Silly Hippie who faints in the desert carries an Indian backpack. And that ‘Padharo Mhare Des’ is perhaps what comes to one’s head as the Rajasthan’s folk song for welcoming tourists rather than ‘Damadam Mast Qalandar’. But you let that go because ‘the children are so cute’.
You look up dead baby jokes on your phone as the blind boy asks for more food.
You groan as the list of characters they meet grows: from the wedding feast to the Godwoman conwoman to the child nappers to the divine oracle. They’re all such insincere. caricatures you want to go hug the chachi who hated the kids. Now you know why. Even if you allow the truck driver and the wedding feast to be real, and good people, you cannot but see how manipulative this movie gets in order to force you to say, ‘So cute these kids are! Even when they’re crapping in the night and the older sister is so cute because she is keeping a watch even though she is just a little girl.’
The writing will have you wring your hearts. Bad aunt, ineffective uncle, kids running away under the hot summer sun not realising what a dangerous place this big bad world is, but their innocence pulls them through. Then the little boy is blind. And before you can say, ‘How can anyone say bad things about a little blind kid and his little sister?’ the movie tells you again and again how cute they are because they love Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan and like millions of ‘cute and innocent’ Indian villagers believe the stars can save them from their lives.
The kids are cute. Up until the little boy starts belting out songs as though he is a professional. And the lame reasoning is: This is the first time after our parents’ deaths that he’s singing. And you think, are people going to hate you for not liking a talented little blind boy?
The child nappers are so stupid, they travel without guns and get taken in by robbing gypsies. Now gypsies have been given a short shrift everywhere, and if all that cuteness of woman with antique gun hasn’t numbed your logic, you would know that the gypsies wouldn’t let one person rob travelers. They’d do it in groups.
The singing, oh the singing! Looks like Mharo Rajasthan is full of singers of folk songs and dancers and people who say, ‘Stay the night, leave in the morning.’ It’s not exotic India, people, it’s a journey of cute blind boy and his feisty sister to find a cure…
I know this film has been made for those with a surplus of the milk of human kindness, but it made me hanker for something more. Why don’t we make movies like Children of Heaven? Can watch that any time and it touches you deeply every single time. Cuteness can carve out only a part of the heart. I still remember Hyderabad Blues and Iqbal. And this movie is too shiny bright, too glossy and and tries too hard to be cute.
Despite the name of the movie, it creates no longing, no space in your heart to sing, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow!’