Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Children Of Heaven

Yesterday , there was a screening of movie "Children of Heaven" In ISC (India Social Centre).
Since I had seen the review of the movie a few months  back on NDTV by Anupama Chopra ,who had highly recommended the movie for young and adult alike , I decided to shrug off my laziness and take Pax (younger son -6 years) to ISC Abu Dhabi.
The bag was packed with Lays, Juices and cookies . I briefed him about the movie , so that he is not disappointed by a  simple sensible movie ( He is more used to watching eye catching colourful animations and little bit of  english and hindi  movies for kids).
Set in 1979and directed by Iranian Director Majid Majidi, movie is about a poor Iranian family's two out of three children , their bond , their understanding  of deprivation  and display of  maturity and innocense simultaneously .
The first scene starts with the boy getting  a   pair of already very  old  and  battered pink shoes   mended from a cobbler , which belong to the younger sister. While running other errands ,on the way back home, he loses them.
The younger sister is in a fix, how would she go to school without shoes? and if she tells the parents , both the kids were to get the beatings , for sure. They come out with a simple solution , sister would wear brother's shoes in the morning shift and brother would wear them in the noon shift of his school.
There are atleast 10 scenes in the movie where the little girl runs half way to home after school where she finds brother waiting impatiently to exchange his slippers to the shoes, lest he would be late for his school and run with all his might to his school.The children running zigzag through the alleys of the  village , gutters gushing with drain water  right in the middle of these labyrinth of alleys, unplastered dilapidated houses , simple make shift shops on the way make the whole atmosphere so realistic that I unknowingly got transported into the small town .
Picturisation of movie is very subtle but conveys a child's mind so well . The little girl's obsession for shoes,the boy's guilt for having lost shoes and gratitude toward sister for her keeping it a secret from parents gets conveyed completely.
And then there are those moments when a shoe slips off her foot and falls down in the gutter  or, once they wash the shoes and keep it for drying and it starts raining in the night;  all these moments show how difficult the seemingly small problem can become for a child.
The scenes inside the house are like a window to the Iranian culture and its household life.The carpeted one room  furniture less house, a common open place in front of a high walled row houses with a  common water tank and  washing place are  all  very typical of their village life style.
Its a very well cast movie. The kids are absolutely adorable , despite being in  ragged clothes, no make up looks , they are totally real kids .Kids this real in Bollywood movies can be  very hard to find.Father looks tired , affectionate, at times irritated and above all , just like anybody from the neighbourhood.
In the end , the boy runs a 4 KM race and aspires to be in the third position , as the prize for third position is a pair of sneakers.He runs really hard and comes first but still in tears .........
I got so involved in the movie that I was getting nervous if the boy would eventually win or not.And there is one of those last scenes where father after shopping  things for kids is  coming home, needless to say that there are shoes stuffed  in the basket stuck on the carrier of his cycle.(what a happy ending!).
(I actually felt wanting for one more last  scene when kids could hold their new shoes in their hands and had smiled back at us.)
Guys (parents) there is much more in the movie than what I have mentioned here so if you get a chance ,please do not miss it. I was thinking that deprivation is something very hard to understand and impossible to relate to, if kids have not faced it in their lives but Pax was all  eyes glued on the screen .He had to be explained many scenes, since the movie is in Persian with english subtitles and he as yet cannot read very fluently,but he was there understanding the children's struggle wholeheartedly.Pax , just like the hero himself ,wanted him to come third in the race and was all set to clap at the finish of the race.
This simple , low budget movie has a lot to tell . Pax did not take out a single biscuit or chips from his sack through out the movie , which tells a lot about how impactful a movie can get if the Director is commited and clear about  what he  wants to show and nothing more than that (for the sake of covering taste of large audience).
We enjoyed every bit of the movie and thought of sharing it with you.
PS- The movie has acclaimed 3 awards at-Montreal film festival, Newport film festival and Singapore film festival.


  1. Ahh I am definitely going to watch this one. Such a simple story. Even your review has succeeded in bringing the whole thing alive in front of my eyes... The fact that your son did not want biscuits or chips does speak of the interest the movie had for him.

    Thanks for the review. :)

  2. Thank you Shail. I am glad you liked it.
    pl keep visiting here, it matters to me a lot.