How Mumbai's kids live its cinema

“I wanted to explore the life of kids in a media city like Mumbai,” admits 38-year-old Andre Hörmann, a filmmaker, as we ease into our chat. The German feels that he has become an expert on such films after delving into six to seven short films of the same nature. Hörmann’s works on kids in mega cities - Bhavini Only Wants to Dance (2013), Sharukh - the Slum Mechanic (2013) and Bollywood Boy (2005) will be screened at Max Mueller today.

Andre Hörmann at JK School in Goregoan during a visit on Wedneday. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Film the plan
“There was no plan (of filmmaking) actually, I myself am surprised,” is another confession, the affable Hörmann doles out. He has captured the tinsel dreams of two teenagers who live underneath corrugated tin roofs - Bhavini and Sharukh - intended as TV slots for German television. While Bhavini is a child from the slums that hopes to become a classical dancer some day; Sharukh is a car mechanic who cherishes his desire to learn driving impelling his mother to simply smile and forget her worries.

Tanay Chheda stars in Bollywood Boy that traces the child artist’s journey so far

Bollywood Boy stars the talented Tanay Chheda who received international recognition for his work in Slumdog Millionaire and is remembered as Rajan in Taare Zameen Par. Hörmann covered Chheda’s appraisal of the lead role in Mastang Mama when he is all of eleven years of age. The film spans over his many facets -within is family and on sets with the city playing as the pivotal context, always. He divulges that the motivation to make documentaries on Mumbai’s kids was logistical. He shares, “TV slots are intended as these fit the short 15-to-30-minute slots between programmes. They mostly contain portraits of children from across the world.”

Entry by accident
Going back to his accidental entry into filmmaking, Hörmann relays that in 2005, while being enrolled in a Film School in Berlin, he travelled to Kolkata with his instructor. As it usually involves, Hörmann shot a short film on the ‘amusing’ (in his own words) topic of call centre employees who pretend to sit in Australia or London selling ‘ludicrous’ products such as fire extinguishers while jostling with challenges of American and British English.

Between chuckles, he says, “A Londoner only speaks 80 words in a minute but an Indian utters an average of 140 words per minute, making his speech to fast to be understood. This film was my door to the film market where I explored the contrast between the employee’s globalised part of life with Nokia, Levi's and Sony; and his other traditional side of going to the temple and going for an arranged marriage.”

Mumbai lens
Since then Hörmann waded to his expert status and now describes Mumbai “as an economic locomotive with a lot happening in every moment whereas in Germany, nobody is around”. A German national who finds his own home country a bore after two weeks is intriguing. Hörmann echoes the universal thought that kids are “very pure and don’t feel many problems like adults. They play a lot in every

Plus, the genre of documentaries where the expected never takes place but something more unravels was exciting for the city-besotted director. Still, he also has dealt with linguistic, cultural and even power-play differences. “I had to explain what I was doing to the slumlords. Once they understood, there was no problem,” Hörmann shrugs it off. Looking ahead, Hörmann is doing his PhD on the Raaga theory vis-a-vis Indian aesthetics in Hindi films.

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