Sat Feb 29, 2020 – 12:00 pm | Bushel & Peck’s
Directed by Brahmanand S Siingh, Tanvi Jain
India | 102 min | 2019
In a twinkle of an eye, a life-altering disappearance of her 7-year old kid brother sets Jhalki off on a mission to find him at all costs. Armed with an intimate folk-tale of a tireless sparrow and her own charming presence of mind, unaware and ignorant of the deep-rooted corruption and cobwebs of the system, Jhalki takes on the monstrous and the conniving with a purity of pursuit that is at once uplifting and inspirational.
Is Jhalki’s journey the start of a spiral that will change the lives of thousands for good? What price must she pay to get what she wants? Inspired by true events, with a backdrop of human-trafficking and child-labour, Jhalki becomes an atypical thriller of hope, courage, self-belief and perseverance in an inhuman world, seen through the eyes of a 9-year-old girl, who will not stop anywhere short of a triumph.
Childhood, to me, has always meant freedom and fun, learning and loving … In that, whenever I have thought of childhood that gets swaddled in the form of child labor, working long hours and being deprived of love, care, affection, understanding, freedom and so on, I feel pained and am stirred with a sense of doing something to undo the entire system that perpetuates these sinister practices.
Different people have to do different things, in their own way. My part of the equation, I felt was to create an awareness by making a film that stirs you up and makes you take a stand in no uncertain way. Which is why this film, Jhalki… a moving tale of lost childhood, with an impactful child labour and human trafficking backdrop.
The journey has not been easy, neither has been the choice to stick to the original vision, not dilute it or get busy with feature projects that are lucrative and more mainstream and easier to take off, with big stars and big banners. There’s a pleasure in sticking to your vision and achieving the results you have set out to do. So, through countless ups and downs of all kinds, we are here now with the film, which will hopefully move people as much as it did to us in the process of creating it.
Jhalki is a heart-rending but inspiring story of the search of a nine-year old street-smart girl in search of her seven-year old brother, both caught in the vortex of bonded child-labor. Armed with an intimate folk story of a tireless sparrow and her own ingenious efforts, her charming ability to think on feet and presence of mind, Jhalki manages her search and eventually to free her brother, along with thousands of other bonded children caught in this insidious practice affecting over 200 million children worldwide and 60 million in India itself.
The film which has two children at its heart and finds support from other key people playing various roles … Boman Irani (playing Kailash Satyarthi, who was honoured with the Nobel Peace in 2014 for rescuing over 85,000 children from child slavery), Govind Namdeo, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sanjay Suri, Divya Dutta, Akhilendra Mishra, Bachan Pachera and Joy Sengupta … and two terrific child actors, Aarti Jha and Goraksha Sakpal … new but brilliant finds.
Visually, it aims to explore the earthy colors and feel, grounded in reality as the predominant colour palette. This, however, is mixed, in a very balancing way, with some surrealistic sequences as well as flights of fancy that explores a child’s perception of reality. Performances and a combination of urgency and pace coupled with moments of stay and stillness enhances the sense of overall poetry of the narrative.
Sound Design plays a big part in the structural and emotional journey of the film. The raw and pure rural sounds (of mills and pumps and machines and traffic that fill the air as much as those of the birds and animals) mixed at right places with effects attempts to create a complete hypnotic involvement. And to add to it all, its powerful background score in combination with the soulful songs, all play a huge part in the overall experience of the film.
Brahmanand S. Siingh
Brahmanand S Siingh is a very unique combination of being an outstanding, multiple award-winning and well-recognized filmmaker, a vastly published author and a Life Coach. He has also been nominated for REX-Karmaveer-Chakra Awards, in partnership with the United Nations, for transforming lives through social impact projects and ideas of hope.
He has been vastly recognized for his experiential and inspirational biopics on iconic legends like RD Burman and Jagjit Singh (Pancham Unmixed & Kaagaz Ki Kashti), movies that have acquired a cult status, in addition to social and emotional cause-based films like Jhalki, a story of hope, courage, compassion and self-belief against the backdrop of a story of lost childhood & human trafficking. Many other films like Riding on a Sunbeam, Through our Eyes, Ashgari Bai, Ragpickers, Uncaging the Body and A Burden of Love continue to be popular and loved.
He has been invited to be on the Jury, film and script selection committee of various International Film Festivals and award platforms. He also conducts filmmaking and scriptwriting workshops in film festivals and institutes.