The Blue Umbrella – 2005, Hindi
“Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning”
– Desmond Tutu
The Blue Umbrella is a film directed by Vishal Bharadwaj based on a novella penned by Ruskin Bond. The film premiered at the Busan Film Festival in 2005. It won the Best Children’s Film award at the National Awards.
Vishal Bharadwaj began his career as a music composer for TV shows and advertisements. His film career started as a music composer for the film Abhay in 1995. His first film as a director was Makdee. This film won the second prize at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. While he is well known for the gritty adaptation of Shakespeare trilogy Maqbool (MacBeth), Omkara (Othello), and Haider (Hamlet), his filmography is more versatile.
Ruskin Bond is an Indian writer of British descent. He wrote in English. His stories are mostly set in the Himalayan region where he lives. He won several awards for his writing. Most Indian children, especially of my generation, grew up reading Ruskin Bond and R.K. Narayan.
The film opens with Nanda Kishore listening to an astrological forecast that tells him that he will be richer than Bill Gates. Nanda Kishore also called Nandu is a small shopkeeper who sells tea and candy in a village close to Dalhousie in the Himalayas. Nandu gives candy on credit to the children, so that he can take their possessions. Biniya is a ten year old who lives in the same village. She lives with her mother and her wrestler brother Bijju.
One day Biniya exchanges her lucky bear claw necklace for a beautiful blue umbrella with a Japanese tourist. That umbrella becomes both a delight to some and a reason for jealousy to others. There are several folks who want that umbrella including Nandu. One day the umbrella goes missing. What happens to the umbrella, who stole it, and what happens to the thief is the rest of the story.
Nandu is greedy, he has no morals, his greed brings his downfall. Biniya is a smart and compassionate child, she is willing to help others. These are the only two important characters in the film. Another somewhat minor character is Rajaram, an employee of Nandu who does the dirty work for Nandu. There are several other characters who depict people you see in real life.
The film is largely true to the plot of the novella, except that the umbrella is stolen in the film, in the novel there is only an unsuccessful attempt. Biniya’s brother is much younger in the novella. The novella was set in Garwal region of the present day Uttaranchal, whereas the film was set in the Banikhet region which is close to Dalhousie.
This film is a delight to watch in more than one way. I had been to the region in which the film is shot. That was my first trip to the Himalayas. In my opinion, there is nothing that is as majestic in the world. The film captures the beauty of the region very well.
Performances in the film are excellent! Pankaj Kapoor who is a very good actor excelled in the role of Nandakishore! So is Shreya Sharma who played Biniya. Vishal Bhardwaj is quite good at extracting performances from his cast. This film is no exception.
Direction of the film is very good! Scene transitions are very nice! The film moves through the seasons to set up the mood of the film. Music in the film is also quite good! Watch this beautiful little film which is delightful not just to the children, but to the adults as well.
Manjula Jonnalagadda is from Hamsavaram, East Godavari Dist, and lives in Los Altos, CA. She is a Techie by profession and complex by nature. She loves to read; Chekhov, Kafka, KoKu and Sankaramanchi are among her long list of favorites. She is serious about films, and a regular at a few local Film festivals. Her other interests are quizzing and hiking. While she enjoys western classical music and all kind of vegetarian food sans beans and fake meat, she seeks comfort in Carnatic music and curd rice.