Tag Archives: Berlin International Film Festival

Film Review: Dhanak (2016)


The subject of Nagesh Kukunoor‘s films is always fascinating. His latest project is Dhanak, a tale of orphan siblings in the northern area of India where a SRK-fan sister Pari convinces her blind Salman Khan-fan brother Chotu to take him to Jaisalmer where SRK is active in shooting for an eye-donation event. Pari is convinced by a fortuneteller that Chotu will suffer if she doesn’t reach Jaisalmer to treat his blindness within three days.

From there begins a wonderful journey towards the different northern parts of India where they meet people from different walks of life who aid them reach their destiny. Kukunoor makes the destiny look a colourful dream with blends of cultural significance to spiritual addicts with combusting food for stomach afflicts.


There are severe odds over not meeting SRK but thanks to a wonderful screenplay which justifies the extraordinary stories of very ordinary people. The chemistry of the siblings, played by young kids Hetal Gada and Krrish Chhabria is very lively and natural. Both especially Chotu actor has given a splendid performance. Their arguments are very real and hilarious which creates a tone and makes you watch the destiny.

Kukunoor has depth in the presentation of realism in various ways. He dramatises the blood relations very well and he has done in his early films. It is quite deep and tragic that siblings do not get the proper caring from their guardians as much as they are well received by the outsiders. Also, I liked the segment of siblings meeting an American hippy from California.


I am very impressed with the background score and production of songs used in the film by Tapas Relia. Easily the best number is hippy Douglas Adam (Chet Dixon) singing a wonderful rendition of Damadam Mast Qalandar with Chotu (voiced by Devu Khan Manganiyar).


The irony of the fate of Dhanak is that such a sensible storytelling masterpiece hardly earned mere 2.5 crore INRs which shows a mark of disinterest among the Indian viewers and stellar interest towards the popular masala entertainers. Whereas the very same film has earned an international acclaim in many film festivals.

The film won the Crystal Bear Grand Prix for Best Children’s Film in 65th Berlin International Film Festival. Also, includes in the accolades is the Best Film award in Sneaker’s Children Festival, Poland.

Dhanak is easily one of the best children’s films made in Bollywood in recent years or perhaps this century so far.

Ratings: 8.3/10

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Movie Review: The Song of Sparrows (2008)


Ostrich….. Goldfish….. Tomans….. Listening Aid….. Sparrow….. 

There are reasons I prefer watching International movies belonging to different countries. The biggest reason is that most of the movies produced under different banners come up with an entirely fresh story, fetch an amazing scale of presentation and watch unfamiliar and different art of film-making. By this way, you get more awareness of cultural understanding of different cinemas, their film-makers, their artists and many more. The title of the movie and trailers on YouTube were worth to convince me for downloading and watching it. And so that happen.

Karim is an old man who lives in the village near Tehran. He is a kind-hearted, simple and humble man working in ostrich pen. He has a wife with three children. His eldest issue Haniyeh has listening problem and use listening aid. One day, Haniyeh broke her listening aid. Karim takes the aid to main city of Tehran to fix in one of workshop but the technician informs him that it is of no use and have to buy a new one which is 350,000 Tomans.

He would have easily paid the amount if the very next day, one of the ostrich would not have escaped. It was a hilarious scene and in fact it is a funny movie too. The timing of comedy is realistic and full of life. Losing an ostrich means losing almost 2 million Tomans and losing Tomans simply means Karim won’t be able to buy listening aid for Haniyeh. A typical hardship begins!!

Mistaken for a cab driver by a frantic businessman, he discovers a lucrative new occupation ferrying passengers around the city on the back of his bike. During this hardship phase, he confronts with life’s amazing nature of events which is a part of life of a common man. The story goes deep with different circumstances he meet to fulfill Haniyeh’s requirement and steps many walks of life. It is not only about struggling for Haniyeh but his own life changes. Everyday he bring new discarded item to home for social betterment and at the same time collect money for his different jobs. 

When Haniyeh’s need for listening aid and bringing discarded items to house wasn’t enough, his son Hussein wishes to buy a goldfish to make it swim in the pond by removing the sludge, which Karim rejects the idea. One day Karim meet an accident when the pile of junk collapses and severely injures him. Now you have to see yourself how he buys listening aid for Haniyeh.


‘The Song of Sparrows’ is Iranian movie produced in 2008 and directed by one of Iran’s finest film-maker Majid Majidi. The leading cast is Iran’s iconic actor Reza Naji and that was fourth Majidi-Naji collaboration in Iranian cinema. Only two languages have been spoken in the whole movie; Persian and Azeri (Azerbaijan). The movie is a blend of joys and sorrows distributed in Karim’s family.

Karim is an amazing figure and portrayal of a jeopardized father who keeps his misery aside and strives his best to make the house home. One significant feature of Karim’s role is that Naji played a role of 40-year-old man who actually was 66 at the time of making. His role convinces how rural people face misfortunes specially when they are making their bread from village to city. 

The best scenes of the movie were when Karim don’t have change of 500-note to give to street girl at traffic signal and boys dropping a big can of goldfish latter. Both scenes have tremendous timing of hiccups and picking of body language towards the making of scene which make you think. 

The Song of Sparrows was Iran’s submission for the 2008 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Reza Naji won Silver Bear in 2008 Berlin International Film Festival which made him the first Iranian actor ever to win Silver Bear and also won Best Actor award in 2008 Asia-Pacific Screen Awards.

I shall end the review with statement made by the director Majid Majidi about his intention of making this movie: “My aim was to portray contemporary people today vis-à-vis the modern world in order to show how the era of modernization has put human beings in a stranglehold. By this I do not mean that I am opposed to modernity, per se. Modernization should be at the service of humanity, yet people find themselves conquered by it. The result is that with each passing day we are becoming more distant from our own human values. . . . All of our values — including friendship, morality and beauty — become less important day by day. In opposition to this process, my aim was to say that we must return to our human essence or else face a major disaster in the future.

Ratings: 8.3/10

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