I watched this film yesterday evening, after leaving the kid playing in the park. Halfway through the film, I couldn't stand the separation from my baby anymore. I went back to the park and got him back home. We watched the rest of the film together, and that wasn't so bad.
'It's based on a true life story.' I told him.
So take this as a warning. Don't watch this film without your baccha nearby. You might suffer anxiety pangs.
And after we watched the last half of the film together, Pavan wanted to see the beginning (naturally) .
'Ok. I will show you till he crosses the border, ok?'
And we saw again how the eight year old boy has a tiff with his mother over a cup of tea, and walks off in a huff across the Indo-Pak border.
His father, seeing him walk toward the dangerous no man's land, follows him, and they both are caught, questioned, and imprisoned in an Indian jail.
The mother has no idea whether they are dead or alive. They are a hindu family in Pakistan, belonging to the harijan community, and have no clout, not even to make a police complaint.
And the Indian jail imprisons a child of eight along with his father for four, long years.
'So the lesson of the story is not to fight with your mother over small things, right?' the boy volunteers, as I am trying to get him to talk his thoughts about movies.
'No, tukru, the lesson of the film is not to cross the border without a valid visa.' I say.
'Oh. What is a visa?'
'An official permission to enter a country.'
After the kid went to bed, I thought about his interpretation and realized that it was not really off the mark. Most big fights start small, don't they? And big separations begin with small incidences.
After the four years, when they are finally released from the Indian prison, (sorry, I am giving away the ending), the boy is released first, with no hope that the father will be out, and no knowledge of the mother, whether she is still alive.
And Ramchand has to make the back-journey to his village alone, just as he had left four years ago, alone.
And then another thought struck me; the similarity between Pavan's response to Ramchands trauma. Since the whole fight began for a full cup of tea, till date, Ramchand does not drink tea anymore. An eight year old boy gives up his favorite drink out of guilt and fear.
But what was this film really about? My grandmother, a freedom fighter, used to proudly say that we are a constitution that has a judicial system based on a basic premise. Being, if ninety nine culprits go scot free, it is ok. But not a single innocent should ever be punished.
This ratio has reversed, and so help us God.
Here is a beautiful song from the film.
Brilliant performances, evocative landscapes, and an even pace, which is a big achievement for a first film. The austerity, the minimum dialogue, is a style that comes back once every ten years. It's almost worth the wait.