Monday, February 21, 2011


Release date: February 18, 2011
Director: Sagar Ballary
Cast: Taher Sutterwala, Chinmay Kambli, Atul Kulkarni, Sarika

It breaks my heart to tell you what’s wrong with Kaccha Limboo – because what’s right with it is soooo right! Those children!! Gawd they’re brilliant!!!
But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, so here’s my review ….

Kaccha Limboo is Bheja Fry director Sagar Ballary’s second film. It’s the story of a 13-year-old boy who is a misfit both at home and school. Shambhu Bandookwala Srivastava doesn’t have much to say to his stepfather (Atul Kulkarni), feels his mother (Sarika) has a life that no longer involves him, he is ‘that fat kid’ who gets picked on in school, is repeatedly spurned by the cool gang in class and is constantly in trouble with the principal. In the midst of all this mayhem in his life, he develops an unexpected and unusual friendship with a pretty basketball player from the neighbouring girls’ school. But trouble with the school authorities among other things prompts him to run away from home, only to find a friend in poor kid Vitthal in a nearby less-privileged colony.
This should and could have been a pathbreaking, coming-of-age Hindi film about the things adolescents do. How lovely that would have been for us, barely a year after Bollywood gave us Udaan! But though he has a nice concept and a wonderful cast at his disposal, Ballary mucks up Kaccha Limboo by not knowing when to stop and what to cut.
Debutant Taher Sutterwala who plays Shambhu is one of the most natural, unaffected child actors I’ve ever seen. Chinmay Kambli as Vitthal is a killer and quite rightfully, already an award-winning performer. And every single child in Shambhu’s school acts well enough to have a serious chance at making it in films or theatre. I read a press report that the director found the entire lot by scouring Mumbai’s schools since he wanted real kids, not actors. What a masterstroke, Mr Ballary!
The film, when it’s dealing with the children alone, doesn’t feel like a film at all, but like a reality show being shot in an Indian school with spontaneous conversations, an effortless style and dialogue writing to match. There’s also a memorable scene where one of the boys casually strums his guitar on the school steps and sings as other children gather to listen … Jab yeh sitaaren, chaand se milke, karte hai mujhko ishaarein … That voice is as clear as a church bell ringing on a quiet morning in the countryside.
When the camera is among the children, what you get is a film that’s loveable, charming, poignant and funny by turns – especially because we were all once like one or the other of those kids in the film and/or because we now see them all around us in our lives. “Shambhu, explain pollination,” a teacher says. “Miss, pollination means a nation full of pollies?” the boy quips straight-faced, as the entire class, Miss and then the joker too collapse in a heap of laughter.
But while Ballary’s portrayal of the children is amazing, his treatment of Shambhu’s parents and other adults is strangely lackadaisical to say the least. The film doesn’t seem to want to project the boy’s mum and dad as irresponsible people at all, and yet they are not shown panicking when their son disappears for a few days. There are unnecessary asides involving the schoolteachers. At the start of the film there’s an entire sequence filled with badly written and badly delivered dialogues, featuring Vinay Pathak in a pointless guest appearance along with actress Rukhsar who needs to brush up on her acting skills. And once Shambhu runs away from home, the film meanders endlessly, giving us an unnecessarily long marriage scene that adds nothing to the story and lengthy quarrels between the grown-ups in Vitthal’s house.
Sad! Because those children are so bloody wonderful that despite all my anger towards Ballary for having lost his bearings somewhere along the way in Kaccha Limboo, I wish you could see those great kids he picked and how much he’s got out of them!
Rating (out of five): **1/4

Jab yeh sitaaren, chaand se milke, karte hai mujhko ishaarein

“Shambhu, what’s pollination?”


  1. this film kind of sank without a trace, didn't it?! [sad..:(] waiting for the DVD to be out..:)

  2. With all its flaws, Kaccha Limboo deserved an audience because of those amazing children and because Ballary is amazing with them. But it was so poorly promoted that I don't think most people in the country realised it had been released. If and when you get to watch it, do let me know what you think of the kids! Rgds, Anna

  3. Anna: I'm half-way through your excellent book; paused to hunt for the DVD of this film online, without success :(

    1. Hi Mohit, That's a pity. If you have the time, perhaps you could locate Sagar Ballary on Twitter and ask him about it. BTW the non-availability of this film's DVD further proves the point I'm trying to make about small films in my book, does it not? Hopefully things will improve in the coming years. Regards, Anna