An 11-year-old boy, chin may Kale (Archit Deodhar), is still trying to come to terms with the recent death of his father when he has to cope with adjusting in an unfamiliar environment as well after his mother (Amruta Subash), a Government servant, gets a job transfer to a small picturesque village in the Konkan region.
Like the wonderful Tamil film Kaakka Muttai released a few weeks back, Killa too has a child as its main protagonist, and like the earlier film, it too cannot be termed as a children’s film. The film, having autobiographical elements from director Avinash Arun’s life spent in the Konkan region, is more of an adult look at childhood and proves for the nth time in recent years that Marathi cinema is making some of the best films in the country.
Killa is a sensitive and gentle film that grows with you as you watch it. It is a most assured directorial debut for cinematographer Avinash Arun. The narrative flow is melodrama free, unhurried, delicate and yet arresting. The film effectively brings about young Deodhar’s restlessness, boredom and anxieties in forming new friends on being forced to move with his mother away from Pune. The film, while understanding its protagonist’s psychology perfectly, makes beautiful use of the monsoon season and the lovely locations in what is otherwise a difficult season to shoot in. Arun turns it into a major strength as we look at how well the use of rain is integrated into the film. His own evocative camerawork is further enhanced by Mohandas VP’s subtle, unobtrusive yet telling sound design. The film judiciously uses background music in just a few sequences thereby making it all the more effective. In fact, there is a maturity in the overall cinematic treatment of the film that must be commended and several sequences stay with you long after the film finishes its running time. The highlight for me – apart from the sequence at the fort – was the visit to the light-house, which deftly shifts its attention from a mundane giving of information of the working of a light-house to a poignant little sequence between the mother and son.
The casting and the performances are spot on. Archit Deodhar is a real natural in front of the camera as the complexed, fatherless, uprooted young boy grappling with himself. He is a standout in the sequence where he and his mother have dinner at her colleague’s house. The scamp-like Parth Bhalerao as one of his newly formed friends all but steals every scene he is in, while Amruta Subash makes a strong impact as the mother on one level trying to manage her son and on the other, fighting her own issues in her job. She gives her role (and the film) much of its strength and dignity The characters of the group of boys are all well etched out and the minor roles too are most effectively cast and played out in the film.
Killa deserves all the accolades it has received including the Crystal Bear Best Film and a Special Mention, both in the Generation K Plus section at the 64th Berlin Ternational Film Festival, 2014 and the National Award for Best Marathi film at this year’s National Awards. All in all, highly recommended.
Marathi, Drama, Color