Director: Manav Kaul
Cast: Kumud Mishra, Trimala Adhikari, Ashish Kumar, Abhay Joshi
Right from the beginning of the film, the mildly-tense-but-proportionately-colorful tone is set on a template of beautiful picturesque of lush and the Himalayas. Places like these have always been our favorite tourism spot. And with the growing business of tourism, more and more resorts seem to have replaced the homes in the locales there. Manohar was one person who used to work at such resort and is now mysteriously missing. His home is now under the threat of being usurped by the rich landlords. His brave daughter Cheeku is fighting against such landlords and is on hunt to trace his lost father. Meanwhile, her brother, Hansa is busy playing around with his friend Rako.
These kids seem to have come straight out of a Hindi textbook or the ones belonging to the postcard images of the hilly milieu. But, let me tell you, they aren’t at all playing caricatures. Each one of them with masterstrokes of detailing, evolve as a character to charm you or sympathize upon: like when Rako on a chase run asks the women nearby, “Time kya hua?” , or when Cheeku is forcing Hansa to touch the feet of the guest at home and he runs away.
The title character dominates on his playmate, is on a chase by a bully (Bunty) as he has stolen his lucky five rupee coin, fears his elder sister with whom he shares an adorable relationship. He leaves you curious about himself till the end but it’s the impactive Cheeku who shocks you as she is tied between some misleading hints about her father’s whereabouts and the lustful landlord (Bajju da, played by Kumud Mishra) who is desperate to lay his hands on her. (A girl on search of her father, Kumud Mishra enters as sexual abuser. Reminds of That Girl In Yellow Boots, no?) Amidst all these, she finds some peace in feeding a meandering troubadour with reconcilement. The director could have easily titled this film as “Cheeku”, as far as the story is concerned. But he opted for the amusing, unpredictable and secretive Hansa who is very analogous to the deceptively heartwarming location about where the film is.
Kaul narrates the story crisply in the runtime of around 80 minutes, managing it not to be too indulgent or sluggish which could have easily happened while dealing a film like this that has no major character development or plot turning and twisting.
We are also offered with some lyrical songs in the voice of Swanand Kirkire which at times gets too heavy for such a lighthearted film. But you shouldn't ignore the deep subtlety in other places as the troubadour starts living into the tent that Hansa and Rako constructed with some sticks and plastic; Hansa revokes all the chocolates, which he had hidden in the tree-holes and broken bricks of the wall, by the end of the film. Can’t we just do something for the happiness to be in its right place? Alas.