Siddharth movie review: gone boy gone

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Siddharth green light

An achingly personal tale of grief and despair amidst the ironies of the modern world, where almost medieval levels of misery live alongside 21st-century horrors.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Oh but the world can be a terrible place. Mahendra (Rajesh Tailang), a Delhi chain-wallah, a sort of wandering zipper repairman, thought he was doing a good thing by sending his 12-year-old son, Siddhu, off to work in factory in another city for a month: the money the boy would earn would be so helpful to the struggling family. But when the child does not return home on schedule, Mahendra and his wife, Suman (Tannishtha Chatterjee: Anna Karenina), panic, and find little sympathy as they begin to search for him. Including, if we’re to be honest, from us. We are, at least at first, more on the side of the cop to whom Mahendra goes to report the boy’s disappearance, who scoldingly reminds Mahendra that child labor is illegal and, dammit, he doesn’t even have a photo of his own son? How is that possible? Even this wretchedly poor family has a mobile phone with a camera in it, no matter that their tiny daughter, Pinky (Khushi Mathur), is the only one marginally literate enough to punch in a top-up code. But Mahendra’s desperation to find Siddhu infects us, particularly as we begin to appreciate the oh-so dire straits of his life as they manifest in the near impossibility of scraping together the resources needed to mount even the most cursory of investigations into what happened to his son. And so what could have been a didactic message movie about the epidemic of missing children in India — the runaways; the kidnapped and trafficked — becomes an achingly personal tale of grief and despair in which the most hopeful thing on offer is the suggestion of one Mumbai street kid questioned by Mahendra, that maybe Siddhu “got lucky and left this world.” Jesus. Canadian filmmaker Richie Mehta based this heart-wrenching movie on the actual experience of a man he met in Delhi who was trying to find his missing son, and it is, at least as far as this outsider can determine, an unvarnished look at modern India… and also at the ironies of the modern world, where almost medieval levels of misery live alongside 21st-century horrors.

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