Cast: Dilzad Hirale, Apoorva Arora, Sohail Lakhani, Suraj Kumar, Tanvi Azmi and Sachin Khedekar
Directed by Sanjivan Lal
Indian movies on childhood have mostly focused on issues that adults believe children deal with. And real kids and their issues (for whatever reason) are rarely deemed worthy of being essayed on the screen. In the bargain, we're subjected to overtly dramatic, smart-ass little devils who spout one-liners like laughter show contestants. In such a state, Sanjivan Lal's 'Bubblegum' breaks the mould created for screen kids and even gets terribly close to at least one fragment from each of our childhoods.
I mean, who hasn't been a love-struck teen, when the whole concept, though fuzzy, makes one gulp at the very idea of confessing the feeling. When just the very sight of the person required pre-meditated stalking and division of attention would lead to unparalleled jealousy. We've all been there, we've all done that. If not, here's a chance.
The story is based in 80s Jamshedpur, but it wouldn't be much different if it were based out of anywhere else during that period. Our lead is a boy called Vedant (Dilzad Hirale), a goofy-looking dreamer, with little care for life, like most kids his age. Clearly, the promos tell you that he has a love interest and the film could be based on his many attempts to charm his first love, the precious Jenny (Apoorva Arora). It is that, but fortunately, also has much more to offer.
Vedant also has an elder brother, Vidur (Sohail Lakhani) who is hearing impaired and an arch enemy Ratan (Suraj Kumar) who also loves Jenny. So, we have a little Archie-Reggie-Veronica here. His refreshingly liberal parents played by Sachin Khedekar and Tanvi Azmi observe a great balance of sternness and lenience, conveyed beautifully in the line, "Humein pata hona chahiye, ki patang mein kab dheel chodni hain aur kab kaatni."
With the backdrop of Jamshedpur preparing for Holi, the film traces the many firsts in Vedant's life and how he tries to get out of every tricky situation he finds himself in. The film delves into the many innocent fears, pleasant realisations and silly delights that tickled us as children. It also presents how these fears manifest into actions that seemed like the only resort at the time, without being preachy or judgmental.
Although the film may not have a revolutionary story, it manages to keep you interested and more importantly, involved. It is also easy to relate to Vedant's frustration, sudden fits of unexplained anger and anxiety which are quintessential traits of adolescence where better judgment is yet to prevail.
'Bubblegum' is a winner because it lets you, momentarily, drift back into your early teens, fog out complications and relish life through a pure and immature perspective. A warm snapshot of growing up, this.
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