Cast: Tatasthu, Ranvir Shorey, Paoli Dham, Aryan Preet, Kumud Mishra
Director: Nila Madhab Panda
Rating: * *
‘Halkaa’ represents the relief one feels when one empties his/her bowels. Coming as it does in the midst of a publicity heavy Swachch Bharat Campaign, supported financially by the Shiv Nadar Foundation, this film by Nila Madhab Panda (of ‘I Am Kalam’ Fame) is at best a propaganda edict that fails to strike the right note or tone for garnering audience participation.
The storyline itself fails to suspend disbelief. A young 8-year-old Pichku (Tathastu) residing in one of the oldest slum colonies in Delhi, dislikes defecating in the open. He goes through the rigours and pain of holding back his bowel movement till he finds the requisite privacy to do his toilette. But in a slum colony where almost everyone defecates in the open it’s hard for him to find a suitable location every day. So the only option is to fund himself a private toilet of his own – an idea which his Mother (Paoli Dham) is sympathetic to, but the father (Ranvir Shorey) is loath to support.
The rest of the narrative basically delineates Pichku and his friend Gopi’s (Aryan Preet) attempts to make their wish come true. Silly dream sequences, unnecessary subplots, repulsive narrative detailing and ridiculous plotting leave you confounded and restive as an audience. While the setting is true the storyline runs amok trying to muster brownie points to make the young boy seem heroic. Frankly, it’s not something a young boy of that age and background, is likely to do. So believability is suspect and treatment, decidedly off-putting. It’s really unfortunate that filmmakers of Nila Madhab Panda’s caliber have whittled down their craft in order to curry favour with an autocratic government!