Now playing at the Edina Cinema, the Richie Mehta film “Siddharth” (2013, Zeitgeist Films, Not Rated, Canada and India, in Hindi with English subtitles) is the spellbinding and gorgeously wrought tale of one father’s journey across India in search of his son.
Mehendra is a chain-wallah, eking out a living fixing zippers on the bustling streets of New Delhi. To ease his financial woes, he sends twelve-year-old Siddharth to work in a distant factory.
When the boy doesn’t come home for the Diwali holiday, Mehendra and his wife Suman slowly begin to suspect that he was kidnapped by child traffickers. With few resources and no connections, Mehendra desperately travels to Punjab and Mumbai with the hope that whoever took Siddharth might return him unharmed.
A powerful family drama both heart-rending and suspenseful, “Siddharth” won Best Film (and Best Director for Richie Mehta) at the South Asian International Film Festival and is an Official Selection of Human Rights Watch.
“Siddharth” also received Best Film Winner at the 4th Beijing International Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize Winner at the South Asian International Film Festival, Best World Feature Winner at the 17th Sonoma International Film Festival, and Audience Choice Award Winner for Narrative Feature Film at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
DIRECTOR’S NOTE — Richie Mehta
“In 2010, I met a man on the streets of Delhi, who asked me for help in finding a place called “Dongri.” I asked him what it was, and he told me he thought it was where his lost son was!
“He went on to tell me his story — that he sent his 12-year-old boy away to work, and never saw him again. He believed his son was kidnapped and trafficked. After the initial shock wore off, I asked him for more details—a photograph, the spelling of his sonʼs name. He couldnʼt answer any of them (being illiterate, and having never taken a picture).
“Since he was obliged to work every day to support his wife and daughter, all he could do was ask others for help. And heʼd been doing this for over a year.
“Knowing that this man didnʼt have the ability, nor the means, to even properly inquire about his son is an unfathomable tragedy. He barely understood why this kind of thing happens, much less how.
“This film is my attempt to reconcile my extremely layered relationship with this circumstance. Itʼs a story made up in equal parts by tragedy and optimism, and I hope what weʼve done here transmits even a fraction of the confusion, sorrow, helplessness, and ultimately, hope, that I felt in meeting this man.
RAJESH TAILANG (Mahendra Saini) — A graduate of the prestigious National School of Drama in Delhi, Rajesh Tailang has acted in more than 500 episodes of various TV serials, as well as a dozen films, including Govind Nihalaniʼs 1084 Ki Maa, Takshak and Dev, Ketan Mehtaʼs Mangal Pandey, Hansal Mehtaʼs Jayate, and Richie Mehtaʼs previous feature, Amal. Tailang has also acted in over 50 theatre productions, performing in Pakistan, Germany, France, China, Bangladesh, Kenya, and all over his native India. Tailang has also directed, translated, and written several plays, in addition to writing a book of original poetry [email protected] He is a visiting faculty member at several institutions across India, including the National School of Drama and the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
TANNISHTHA CHATTERJEE (Suman Saini) — Tannishtha Chatterjee is best known in the West for her role in the British indie Brick Lane (2007), an adaptation of Monica Aliʼs best-selling novel of the same name. For her performance in Brick Lane, Chatterjee was nominated for Best Actress at the British Independent Film Awards. Other notables roles include Oscar-winning German director Florian Gallenbergerʼs Shadows of Time (2004); Road, Movie (2009), with Abhay Deol; and Bibar, for which she won Best Actress at the 2006 Osian-Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema. Other credits include Joe Wrightʼs Anna Karenina (2012), with Keira Knightley and Jude Law; Dekh Indian Circus (2011), for which she won Best Actress at Indiaʼs National Film Awards; and Monsoon Shootout, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.