Sikh Director's Film Debuts at The Toronto International Fillm FestivalCAMERON BAILEY
It’s an undeniable fact: as successful and accomplished as Slumdog Millionaire was, many of Mumbai’s filmmakers can’t stand it. It fixed an image of the city’s poverty so firmly in the public’s mind that it’s become hard to see Mumbai’s millions of strivers any other way.
Mumbai’s King might change that.
In this unassuming debut, director Manjeet Singh captures the reality, the drama, the complexity and the beauty of life in a Mumbai slum. While there are certain stylistic nods to Slumdog’s indelible images, Manjeet’s eye pursues different details, and his story allows for a richer observation of family life.
The film opens with sweeping views of the Mumbai cityscape. A rusty tin patchwork spreads out in the foreground, with the houses of the nouveau riche in the city’s north rising behind them.
A young boy skips across the rooftops of his neighbourhood, seemingly alone in a city of millions. Rahul (Rahul Bairagi) is a serious but spirited boy. At home, his alcoholic father beats both him and his mother, forcing Rahul to take sanctuary in the streets. He and his friends Arbaaz (Arbaaz Khan), a balloon seller, and Salman (Salman Khan), a streetwise big-talker, spend their days wandering the narrow passages of their neighbourhood, pulling pranks, stealing food and stalking Rahul’s young crush, Saloni.
As the community gathers to celebrate the Hindu deity Ganesh with lavish festivities, Rahul and his friends plot to take revenge on his father.
Mumbai’s King unfolds with a gentle, observational rhythm, creating a fable-like atmosphere from its unadorned tale of simple joys and familiar hardships. Using location shooting, natural light and a predominantly non-professional cast, Manjeet Singh immerses us in the particulars of his colourful setting, creating a lovely lyricism grounded in both wonder and truth.
MANJEET SINGH - Bio
Conversation about this article
1: S K Bhogal (United Kingdom), September 13, 2012, 11:40 AM.
I would love to see this film, sounds amazing. I would like to see it from a Sikh brother's point of view.
2: Sarjit Kaur (Pennsylvania, USA), September 13, 2012, 2:12 PM.
Making a film about Sikhs would be a good next step ... say, on how we're expected to remain in chardi kalaa despite dukh/sukh ... and how our failure to obey Guru's Hukam to remain in sadh sangat is the cause of our quom to frolic with calamity ... vital messages which films can convey effectively!
3: Pritam Singh Grewal (Canada), September 13, 2012, 10:52 PM.
It is heartening to see Sikh film-director Manjeet Singh's film debut at the TIFF. A welcome sign of our Chardi Kalaa! Hoping for the success of Mumbai Cha Raja.
4: Jagdeep (Punjab), September 13, 2012, 11:38 PM.
Congratulations, brother. Please be always in Sikhi saroop. Please make a movie on Hari Singh Nalwa. I want the world to how good he was as a human being and as a warrior-saint. Rab raakha, veer ji.