Former journalist and current filmmaker Sundeep Malani’s Jo Jo Laali… Heart Rendering Lullaby, a 40 minute short film, has received rave reviews from those who have managed to see the film. The film is based on the relationship of a mother and child who are both affected by the AIDS virus. While the names are unknown to most people who are unfamiliar with South cinema, it stars the likes of Kalpana Pandit of Moksh and Gajagamini fame, who came on board as the lead actress and producer along with Akash Hora and young Shrey Tejas. Although the film is short of an hour, it has created so much noise that it will be showcased at a number of film festivals around India.
Shot completely in the city of Mumbai, highlights of the film include a Thandav dance similar to that seen in Chandni by Sridevi who happens to be the director’s favorite actress. In fact, Pandit’s costume for the dance was tailored by the same designer. The dance is a dedication from the director to Sridevi. The music of the film too has been praised. Malani describes the film’s music by Ricky Tej and Ameya Naik, as “blend of classical and western”. Talking more about the Thandav dance, the director claims that the dance was necessary for the film. He explains that the dance portrays “erotism” and “romance”.
The director also revealed that the title was courtesy of his own mother who sang Jo Jo Laali, a famous lullaby to him as a child. And this was how the title came about. The film is in Hindi, Kannada and in English but according to the director, will appeal to audiences irrespective of the language. Those who have had the privilege to see the film cannot stop gushing over this heart wrenching story which not only deals with an issue that is normally seen as a taboo but is frowned upon in India.
Sundeep Malani is a renowned director in South India whose films are often seen making much noise at the box office down south. Malani also managed to work with Onir in his upcoming I AM series. He realizes that the film bears an uncanny similarity to Onir’s My Brother Nikhil. However, he is convinced that the film is different because the main protagonist is a young boy who innocently infects the dreaded disease.
If all goes well, Malani, who has also penned the screenplay, is hoping Jo Jo Laali will be considered for the National Awards next year in the short film category. But more importantly, Malani hopes the film manages to create enough of an impact and enough awareness about AIDS in India.