Films: Patang

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USA, 2011, 93 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: India
Genre/Subjects: American Indie, Asian, Drama, Family Issues
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: Hindi English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Prashant Bhargava
Producer: Jaideep Punjabi
Editor: Prashant Bhargava
Screenwriter: Prashant Bhargava
Cinematographer: Shanker Raman
Principal Cast: Seema Biswas, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mukund Shukla, Sugandha Garg

He’s being hailed as a key figure in an exciting new wave of Indian filmmakers, but writer-director Prashant Bhargava has nonetheless brought an unmistakably American touch to his dynamic and beautiful feature debut. Raised in an immigrant family on Chicago’s South Side and educated at Cornell University, the former graffiti artist clearly glories in the harmonious interplay of two vivid and enduring aesthetics.

Filmed in Ahmedabad, India, Patang is a gorgeous celebration of spirit and culture (shot by cinematographer Shankar Raman) that turns, dramatically, on the homecoming of a successful Delhi businessman and his daughter to the city for the annual Uttarayan kite festival. For a thousand years, we learn, kite flying has been more than casual entertainment in India: it's an obsession with religious overtones, and to see the skies over the city filled with thousands of colorful kites, and the upturned faces of the throngs watching them from the rooftops, is to behold a rare wonder that combines honored ritual and visual poetry.

Bhargava made six visits to Ahmedabad in as many years to make this richly textured family drama, shooting more than a hundred hours of preliminary footage. He also won confidence from a great number of local citizens, including the cast of professional and non-professional actors he employs here—among them Seema Biswas and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who appear as the principals. Declares Sudha, Biswas's character, as the sky fills with colors: “We hold on to our happiness. Little, little happiness.”

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