Rajeev Masand

type your search and hit enter

Review: Blue Umbrella will transport you to another world

Rajeev Masand Reviews

  Cast: Pankaj Kapur,

Direction: Vishal Bharadwaj

There’s an inherent innocence in director Vishal Bharadwaj’s Blue Umbrella, a well-meaning, fable-like simplicity, which isn’t just rare to find in the movies these days, but pretty much impossible to find actually.

Set in an idyllic village in Himachal Pradesh with a population so sparse that everyone knows everyone else here, the story’s centred around a marvelous blue umbrella that a little girl in the village, Biniya happens to acquire, much to the envy of everyone around her.

From kids her age to grown-ups, there isn’t a soul in the village who isn’t captivated by the charm of that beautiful umbrella. Some want it so bad they become possessed with greed, and spend sleepless nights plotting how to lay their hands on it.

Prime among these is Nandkishore or Nandu, a tight-fisted Scrooge-like shopkeeper who tries everything from requesting, bribing, even threatening little Biniya to part with her most loved possession.

When the umbrella goes missing from Biniya’s custody one day, a police raid is conducted at Nandu’s shop, but the umbrella isn’t recovered. Humiliated and stung by the accusation, Nandu says he can well afford one of these fancy umbrellas himself, and just to prove he can, he orders one from the city.

When it’s delivered to him some days later, the lovely red umbrella makes him the focus of all attention – Nandu becomes the recipient of newfound respect in the village. Meanwhile, Biniya, unable to cope with the grief of losing her favourite possession, shows off her enterprising side when she launches an investigation to uncover the theft of her own umbrella.

Now the thing about Blue Umbrella is that it’s an absolutely charming story, one that’s got its heart in the right place, but because it unfolds at such a lazy, indulgent pace, you tend to get restless and shifty in your seat for the first half hour or so, until the real drama kicks in.

In many ways, Blue Umbrella seems too small, too personal and too simple a story for the big screen, in fact it’s exactly the kind of television viewing you’d expect to see on Doordarshan on a Sunday morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a bad film, I just think it’s living room entertainment, something for the family to watch together, much like those Kachi Dhoop and Vikram Aur Vetal kind of shows we were glued to as kids. Having said that I’m also not sure Blue Umbrella is what you’d typically call a children’s film.

The Himachali dialect and accent will be difficult for the little ones to follow, and I doubt kids are in the habit of reading subtitles. It is nevertheless a heartwarming story for adults, something to take you back to your childhood, a very simple, very basic moral tale.

But if there’s one reason to watch Blue Umbrella then that reason is Pankaj Kapur who plays Nandu the shopkeeper so perfectly, he brings that character to life in front of your eyes.

His look, his body language, his accent, his dialogue delivery, it’s all first-class. This is what you call acting, and Pankaj Kapur’s performance in Blue Umbrella is like a textbook for young actors.

A soothing music score by Vishal himself, and picture-postcard cinematography by Sachin Krishn make Blue Umbrella a very worthy watch.

I’m going with three out of five and a pat on the back for Vishal Bharadwaj’s Blue Umbrella, it’s a lovely, little gem that’ll transport you to another world.

It’s also a testament to the versatility of a filmmaker who’s given us such diverse films as Makdee, Maqbool and Omkara. Leaving the cinema after a screening of Blue Umbrella, you’ll understand what one means when one says that sometimes good things come in small packages.

Rating: 3 / 5 (Good)

Leave a Reply