Bollywood Movie Reviews

Jhalki Is For All Those Who Worry About India’s Children

Jhalki

Starring  Aarti Jha, Sanjay Suri, Divya Dutta

Directed by  Brahmanand S Siingh

Rating: *** ½(3 and a  half stars)

   Jhalki is  not  a great  film.It is  riddled  with  imperfections and  the plot  careens  dangerously  towards manipulative sentimentality.

 But this  is  film that comes straight from the  heart, warts moles , smothered screams and all. It is  a must-see for anyone  who cares  for the underprivileged  children  of  the country who are  often  left at the  mercy  of  savage exploiters and  vulnerable  to attacks of all sorts  due to poverty.

Little sprightly Jhalki and her  baby-brother Babu, almost like speckled  cousins  of Durga and Apu,  with  not a care  in the world(except perhaps where  the  next meal would come from) are torn away from their village  and parents, when a ruthless middleman(Govind Namdeo, scarily scummy) whisks them away to the city .

There begins Jhalki’s search for her missing brother,  a search that  will remind you  frequently  of last year’s much-vaunted  exceedingly  disappointing  Love Sonia.  Jhalki is  a far more honest, if technically reductible in its  sophistication and  appeal, work than  Love Sonia.

The  flaws in the plot and the rough edges  in the storytelling in some ways, add to the film’s  gnawing sense  of  foreboding.  Luckily debutant  director  Brahmanand S Siingh spares  us the more  gruesome  details of  child trafficking. Nothing really awful   happens  to either Jhalki or her missing  brother.  Siingh consciously  avoids  the  salacious  sordidness  of other films on the  theme  child trafficking.

 The  little female protagonist’s  determination to find her brother  remains inspiring till the end.Aarti Jha who plays  Jhalki is not the least conscious of  the camera  as  she takes  on the  adult world of lies greed  and  desperation with  a wisdom and   obstinacy that belie  her years.

Seasoned  actors show  up in cameos, in the way  they did in Raj Kapoor’s Boot Polish. Some of of these  special  appearances  seem  to  have been  written into the plot for the sake  of including  recognizable  names  in the cast. Among them, Sanjay Suri as  the dithering  district magistrate  of  the town  comes across as  specially ambiguous.Little Jhalki’s  rapport with a  kindly  rickshaw puller(played  with warm persuasion by  Bachan Pachera) is so real, it hurts.

 The heart in  Jhalki  is  immovably  in  the right place and the end-result undoubtedly moving. You may not think  much  of  the  film’s  proclivity  to hammer  in  its message. But the authentic  locations and  the little  girl’s determination   to right a monstrous wrong  sweeps away all misgivings.Watch Jhalki for its  unalloyed humanism .

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