Some movies one can't get enough of. A yearning for the frames to keep rolling onto the screen again and again. The maths somehow all work out then. A foot of film has 16 separate images; a second in time, of sound and image has 24; an average feature with synchronised sound has 200,000 images. And sometimes, these images remain etched in the memory and conjure themselves into perfect packages on an idle rain soaked, light deprived Indian afternoon and refuse to leave. Each second lasts an eternity. An eternity of remembrance by the end of which a light hearted glow rests, the same after a passionate night.
I still remember, that rainy July evening, back home in Matunga a season ago. Soaked and arriving back tired from a mentally exhausting day at work. (fevicol fevicol fevicol……..was all I could think!) and cramps in my legs. (not from walking, but skateboarding right into those calves in office again! No fevicol still didn’t work)
And something strangely familiar on the screen warmed me to it immediately. “It’s an Iranian film. Come sit. You’ll enjoy it,” Vicky Mamu invited. And yes, heart warming it was. I still curse myself for not having carried a copy, every time I relive those 89 mins of pure cinematic scopic genius (1:8:1 ) Children of Heaven, written in farsi greeted me with warmth and those broken glasses…………. Couldn’t quiet read those subtitles. Yet cinema spoke to me that rainy evening and I sat glued to my chair. Giggling like a school girl, hugging myself, that heavy feeling welling up the throat at the climax. The movie was pure pleasure.
The story of two siblings, Ali and Zahra. A simple story told simply: a nine-year old Iranian boy accidentally loses his younger sister’s shoes. Their family is poor and probably couldn’t afford new ones, so instead of getting into trouble, the siblings concoct a plan: they’ll share the boy’s pair of sneakers.
The scheme backfires when the boy becomes chronically late for school and is targeted by the headmaster. Ali, a desolate-looking boy with huge brown eyes and a way of sending tears suddenly rolling down his cheeks. As guileless as possible, even when the film contrives to turn the shoe issue into its main dramatic focus, Ali and Zahra meet secretly in the middle of each school day to pass along the sneakers, but that proves to be no solution. Zahra is hampered by ill-fitting shoes at the rigorous girls' school that she attends. And Ali, against all odds, determines to run a long-distance race and win the third-place prize of running shoes for Zahra. But the spirited boy comes first and is forcibly handed the first prize as he keeps on eyeing those pretty shoes that are perfect for Zahra. The peeling pictures, the morose disgust, the apprehension of disappointment drives Ali home alone, with the free trip prize falling out of his pocket and the cup heaving heavily on his frame shifting his weight towards the cup.
And Zahra washing utensils and blowing soap bubbles, awaits her pretty pink shoes and sees Ali’s worn out, torn look and the same torn shoes they share together………..Zahra goes back to her washing and Ali soaks his feet in the pond with little red fish circling his ulcerate feet. A melancholic alto viola fills the square with the sound of a harmonica and Ali’s father walks home with two new shoes.
I still remember watching the credits scroll out of the screen, and Vicky Mamu telling me, “If I had kids, Id make them sit down and watch this movie again and again.” I knew exactly what he meant. It was a call home to mum, which explained it all…………..