India, 2008, 105 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Family Friendly, Family Issues, Foreign
Language: Hindi English Sub-Titles
35mm presentation - Director Santosh Sivan’s tender fable about childhood innocence amid the realities of war is set against the rugged landscape of Kashmir, so long a flashpoint for the territorial claims of neighboring India and Pakistan. The title character, an eight-year-old mountain boy, often hears distant gunfire. But it is not until he goes on a quest to reclaim his beloved donkey, which has been confiscated as payment of his poor family’s debts, that he is drawn toward a violence he has no capacity to understand.
Simply told and beautifully photographed among snow-capped peaks and frozen lakes, Tahaan follows the boy as he passes through military checkpoints, tries to bargain with merchants, and receives kindnesses from strangers, all while seeking to get his pet out of repossession. Portrayed by newcomer Purav Bhandare, the tiny child wearing the green wool cap becomes a commanding presence in the film – not least because we learn early on that his father has been missing in action for more than three years, and he now sees himself as the man of the family. His grandfather has died; his mother is mute.
When an elder tells him, “Without a purpose, there is no meaning to life,” Tahaan is bewildered. “What is my purpose?” he asks. Ominously, a possible answer emerges when a Kashmiri rebel enlists the unknowing child to toss a hand grenade into an army camp. As the dramatic tension increases, we hope against hope that mercy and miracle will intervene. This is, after all, a boy who has called out to his donkey, “Soon the sun will say goodbye and the moon will say hello,” and our hearts are wholly with him.
DIRECTOR: Santosh Sivan
Producer: Shripal Morakhia, Mubina Rattonsey
Editor: Shakti Hasija
Screenwriter: Santosh Sivan, Ritesh Menon, Paul Hardart
Cinematographer: Santosh Sivan
Principal Cast: Purav Bhandare, Victor Banerjee, Rahul Bose, Ankush Dubey, Rasika Dugal, Rahul Khanna, Anupam Kher, Sana Shaikh, Dheirya Sonecha
US Distributor: GKids
Official Film Website