Uttarayan in Gujarat isn’t a red-lettered day in the calendar, but fond memories of a lifetime. As a kid, I used to be armed to the teeth for the festival, with maanjaas, ‘kodis’ of kites, sunglasses, hats and mixtapes of latest songs to play on amplifiers connected to blaring loudspeakers. Until the guilt feeling of hurting birds crept in, depriving one of any thrill that this festival might have to offer. Vadodara-based director Hardik Mehta’s Gujarati-Hindi 30-minute documentary film, ‘Amdavad ma famous’ transports back to those days of childhood. And what better way of witnessing Uttaryan than from the eyes of a kid?
Set during the colourful backdrop of the Uttrayan festival, ‘Amdavad Ma Famous’ witnesses the transformation of an 11-year-old, Zaid, from being just another lad to the one whose passion drives him through this two-day adventure of a festival. Produced by Akanksha Tewari and Arya A. Menon, the film has swept off almost every award across the globe, including the National Film Award for the Best Non-Feature Film, Jury’s Award – Al Jazeera Documentary Film Festival, Winner – Budapest International Documentary Festival, Winner- Belgrade Film Festival, Winner – Mumbai International Film Festival.
The film engages you right from its opening scene, where Zaid is chasing a kite while crossing the streets. What begins as a documentation of a child’s obsession for kites takes an interesting twist with the entry of ‘villains’ – the local watchman who fiercely guards a bank building and a mosque adjacent to it, and the mosque’s mullah, who steals the show with his impromptu Angrezi, while pooh-poohing the ‘polluted’ generation and invasion of western culture.
Zaid, his father, the watchman, the Mullah and even the bank building and mosque are the characters that stay with you long after you have watched this gem of a documentary film. Cinematographers Piyush Puty and Harshbir Singh keep the shots simple and employ their camera in a way that it transforms audience into one of the film’s characters, rather than passive spectators of what transpires on the screen.
Director Hardik Mehta must be applauded for editing Amdavad Ma Famous with a deftness that is free from the trappings of overindulgence or trying to shove any social message down the audience’s throat. Catch up Amdavad Ma Famous on Netflix, pronto!
Here’s the trailer: