Siddharth (Director Richie Mehta and Lead Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee to appear following 7:40 show at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on Fri. 6/27/14)

Rajesh Tailang as Mahendra Saini in "Siddharth"

Rajesh Tailang as Mahendra Saini in “Siddharth”

From India, “Siddharth,” a film by writer and director Richie Mehta, is a harrowing, thoughtful movie.  It has been beautifully made, with a fine cast.  The film has a narrative that is direct, simple, even suspenseful, yet, at the same time, brings out the complexities facing a poverty stricken family living in modern day India. 

Any good movie must have a character who wants something and wants it very badly.  In this regard “Siddharth” certainly delivers.

Mahendra Saini (Rajesh Tailang) is a father desperately trying to find his 12-year-old son (or, as Mehendra explains to the police, “I think he’s 12”) who, out of economic necessity, he had sent to a distant factory to work.  Mahendra himself works as a zipper repair man, wandering the streets with a megaphone trying to drum up business from broken zippers needing a fix.  Needless to say, business is not good, but this is Mahendra’s trade.

When Mehendra’s son does not come home for a holiday, and the family does not hear from him, they become concerned.  Child abductions are not uncommon.

What makes “Siddharth” so different from the usual “missing child” picture is that the story is not just about the search for a child.  It is also about the social, cultural and economic issues faced by a poor family living in India.

“Siddharth” raises a lot of interesting questions.  Why isn’t Mahendra sure of his son’s exact age?  Why doesn’t he have a picture of his son?  When he describes his son he is told that he has described every 12-year-old boy.  Will he even remember what his son looks like? What about the time he will need to take off from work to search for his son?  Mahendra too is a son.  Will he be able to tell his own father what has happened?  How will his father react?

“Siddharth” is being released by Zeitgeist Films, a company with an excellent track record for spotting films that are innovative, challenging and compelling.

It is my hope that “Siddharth” will find its audience and not become a casualty of idiotic summer movie block busters.  Interestingly enough, many of the block buster audience members would like “Siddharth,” if they give it a chance.

“Siddharth” opens on June 27 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway at 62nd Street.  Director Richie Mehta and Lead Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee will appear for a Q & A following the 7:40 show on June 27.  They will introduce the 9:40 show as well.

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on June 22, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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