Movie review: Jalpari - The Desert Mermaid
Nila Madhab Panda's last outing I Am Kalam in 2011 fetched several honours including the National Film Award for Best Child Artiste for Harsh Mayar. For his second feature, Panda again has kids in the forefront
Jalpari - The Desert Mermaid
Dir: Nila Madhab Panda
Cast: Lehar Khan, Krishang Trivedi, Harsh Mayar, Parvin Dabas, Suhasini Mulay, Tannishtha Chatterjee
Jalpari belongs to tomboy Shreya (Lehar Khan who has done a brilliant job). She coaxes her widower father Dev (Parvin Dabas) to take her to their ancestral village in Haryana something he is not too keen about. Eventually she gets her way and along with her dad, her brother Sam (Krishang Trivedi) and granny (Suhasini Mulay), she reaches her destination only to understand why her father had been putting off the trip for years.
The film takes on the subject of female foeticide which is skillfully interwoven in Shreya’s adventures in the village. It’s a place where the men outnumber the women and where the streets have only boys playing. There’s also the champion boxer (considering that Haryana has thrown up most of India’s ring heroes!). But the mystery lies in a lake where a witch roams. It’s a place where no villager steps into but Shreya does (she loves swimming!) only to discover what actually happens by the lakeside.
The simple tale has been shot in a village in Haryana with Midival Punditz and Ashish Chauhan’s rustic tunes to match. Though there may not be any fancy production values, the adventure and mystery keep it going. There are a few hiccups though. Shreya calls her dad Dev now how many Indian children call their fathers by their first name? She also has a penpal in Karachi.
How many kids nowadays would even know what a penpal is? It is something only people of a certain vintage before the advent of social media would be familiar with. This apart, the film is simply sweet and deserves a watch with some splendid performances too by Harsh as the village ruffian and Tannishtha as the domestic help.