Cast: Aditi Inamdar, S. Mariya, Rahul Bose, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Heeba Shah, Gyanendra Tripathi, Arif Zakaria
Director: Rahul Bose
Rahul Bose ends his sabbatical from direction with this his second effort after a 16 year hiatus. This film is basically a biopic of sorts, a true story that focuses its sights on the Herculean achievement of a 13-year-old Adivasi tribal girl from Telangana who became the youngest girl in history to attain the summit at Mount Everest.
As school going girls Poorna Malawath (Aditi Inamdar) and her cousin Priya (S Mariya) find themselves kept out of the education loop because their fathers did not have the money to pay their fees. Priya though is not the docile type so when she finds out from a leaflet, that there’s a school managed by the Telangana Govt offering free food and board, several kms away from their home village, she embarks on a plan to run away along with Poorna. Unfortunately they get caught in the act. Priya is married off and Poorna is able to convince her father to send her to the residential school.
Once there, she finds that the paradise she was hoping for comes with many troubles. Thankfully, before she can make a beeline for home, Pravin Kumar IPS (Rahul Bose) walks in to reform the system there. He is obviously slamming it – claiming to want to reform the educational system in Govt aided schools. Poorna basks in the attention and proves to be a good performer. In order to stay away from marriage she joins a state sponsored mountaineering course in which she excels. After that she gets advanced training and eventually gets selected to be amongst the only two to be selected to scale Mount Everest. But before that can happen tragedy strikes and Poorna falters in her devotion to the summit finish.
Rahul Bose’s assured helming allows for a gentle and involving pace. The interaction between the two cousins and their bonding is in fact the highlight of the movie. S Mariya is stunningly sublime as Priya the headstrong older cousin who is forced to accept her lot while doing everything to encourage her younger cousin to achieve the impossible. Poorna’s training though leaves a lot to be desired.
Probably because of budget constraints Rahul Bose might have had to do away with training sequences in the snow capped Himalayas – which hampers the believability of the experience greatly. It takes a lot more to climb Everest though and Rahul Bose’s efforts to take a short-cut to the summit undo all the hard work that came before it. Writers Prashant Pandey and Shreya Dev Verma manage to incorporate interesting titbits along the way.
Salim – Sulaiman’s score is elevating and compliments the laidback style of the telling. The use of Telugu interspersed with Hindi and English dialogues adds grit to the experience. The Director in Bose dwells more on the sibling bonding and the dramatic heft of tragedy that spurs the underdog sporting hero to the greatest of heights. Non linear, the film opens with an acrimonious discussion between the Secretary of state (Dhritiman Chatterjee), Women and Child Welfare representative (played by Heeba Shah) and Dr R.S Pravin Kumar(Bose himself) on the possible repercussions of Poorna’s ill health before the final haul to the summit.
And then cuts back to Poorna’s school life in her home village. It’s a simplistic approach that is all the more powerful to behold because of it. Cinematographer Subransu manages to capture the village life with rustic reverence. The snow clad mountains look fake though- especially shots of Everest with Poorna at the Summit. Editor Manan Mehta makes the transitions smooth and comforting.
Even given the drawbacks of this story-telling exercise, Poorna’s achievement of reaching the summit on 25th May, 2014 despite inclement weather and hypothermia related fever wrecking havoc on her system, cannot be challenged.