Starring: Pankaj Kapur, Shreya Sharma
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Vishal Bhardwaj is known for making different films. His films are not your average Bollywood cinema fare. His new film, The Blue Umbrella, is no different. Based on the novella by Ruskin Bond, The Blue Umbrella is totally different from what one has encountered from watching a typical Bollywood film. That different type of cinema can be called the Vishal Bhardwaj stamp. One can’t help but enjoy watching his films because it is something one has never seen in Hindi cinema. The Blue Umbrella tells a simple story in a beautiful manner. The execution of the film is why the film works. Any other director probably would have faltered making something like this, but with Vishal, you know you are assured of a solid product at all times. The Blue Umbrella is no different, as it is a well-made film, although it does slow down at times. That limits the film from achieving more than it does.
The film is basically about a little girl names Biniya (Shreya Sharma) who lives in a little village in India. She receives an umbrella from Japanese tourists, in exchange for her lucky locket. But this is no common umbrella, as it has a very different design and a nice blue color. The whole village seems to have fallen in love with the blue umbrella, as they follow it around wherever Biniya takes it. One person who especially takes a liking to the umbrella is Nandikishore Khatri (Pankaj Kapur), the local tea stall owner. He wants the umbrella for himself, but Biniya is not willing to give it up. Then one day, the umbrella goes missing, and the investigation of the umbrella, a new umbrella, the discovery behind the umbrellas, and the aftermath are what forms the rest of the story.
The story is a simple one, as it is known to be a children’s story. But by no means is it a children’s film. It can be watched by one and all. What makes the film so intriguing is its simple story line. Anyone will be to understand it and there will be no confusion when one watches it. The biggest plus is the execution of this simple story. The credit for that has to go to Vishal Bhardwaj. If this film were not taken care of the way he took care of it, it would have turned into a lackluster product. Vishal is known to be a great storyteller, and he once again proves it with this film. There are no bumps on the road or any subplots. This film consists of one basic plot, and it sticks to it throughout. That is why the film works. It doesn’t require you to use too much of your brains to figure things out. You know everything you’re being offered and that makes the viewing even more enjoyable. The one area where the film does falter though is the pacing of the film. It tends to slow down in the second half, especially after we find out the truth behind the stolen umbrella. It totally bogs down the proceedings and takes the film down a notch. The film was not very fast paced to begin with, but the second half becomes even slower, and it does create a roadblock for the film. The only place where Vishal made a mistake as a director is making it slow paced, which is a bit odd as the film’s duration is less than two hours. Had the film been a bit more quickly paced, it would have scored even more. The film has a nice plot, which people would enjoy watching, but the pace can cause to be a killer for some. That, by itself, can limit the movie’s prospects.
Another low point in the film is its cinematography. At times the movie is bright, while others it is too dark. Most of the darkness occurs indoors during the snowy season. Outdoors during the snowy season is a bit of an improvement, but it still isn’t up to the mark compared to the rest of the film. It puts you off as you can barely see the screen. The spring season is beautifully shot as it is mostly outdoors. The indoor shots, especially during the cold, are really poor. The snowy season appears near the end of the film, so basically all the major faults of the film are towards the end of the film with the lackluster cinematography and poor pacing.
There is no real focus on music in the film. There about two to three songs, but they provide nothing to the film’s proceedings. The tunes that are part of the film are nice to listen to and don’t bother you.
Pankaj Kapur is fantastic as the miserly tea stall owner. He totally digs deep and gets inside the character and totally wins you over. His look, his dialect, his movement, it all is wonderful. It is yet another terrific performance from a terrific actor.
Shreya Sharma, the little girl, is a delight to watch on screen. She is yet another child actress who shows off her abundance of talent. Basically it is her, Pankaj Kapur, and the umbrella that carry the entire movie.
The Blue Umbrella may not appeal to all, but a different brand of cinema usually doesn’t. But that doesn’t stop the movie from ending up a well-made product. Barring a few deficiencies here and there, The Blue Umbrella is a simple and well-executed film, which will most certainly be appreciated by people who don’t mind seeing something different. If you’re in the mood to experiment with your choice of films and watch something different, then give this one a shot. It is worth a watch just for the fact that Vishal Bhardwaj knows his craft and he displays it well.