Friday, May 13, 2011

Stanley Ka Dabba 

Sunshine Kids

Amole Gupte used an unusual method to make Stanley Ka Dabba.  He worked with a bunch of kids without telling that a movie was being shot.  The adult actors were not given any lines, and had to improvise. The result is a  Dogme style film without any artifice.

It takes a while getting used to the rawness and the fact the scenes are not structured. But the kids in the film have fun, so do the grown ups. There is an appealing naturalness to the proceedings, and a ‘story’ is not forced in. When everybody is good and ready, the point the director is trying to make, neatly enters and wraps things up nicely.  Not at all an easy exercise to pull off and hell for the editor, in this case Deepa Bhatia, to turn it into a film with a proper flow.

Stanley (Partho Gupte) comes to school with mysterious bruises and no tiffin, like the other well-scrubbed kids whose mothers (always mothers in this day and age?) pack their dabbas. One of the teachers, Mr Varma (Amole Gupte) salivates at the sight of all the food and it takes all the kids’ ingenuity to dodge his greedy eyes and hands.  Food becomes a central motif of the film—and anyone who can come out if the cinema not feeling hungry for rich home-cooked food, is probably anorexic.
It’s tough to say what happens next without serving up a spoiler, but there is admiration for the way the kids communicate their generosity as well as their mischief without irritating filmi precocity. Children will probably relate to the film whole-heartedly.


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