Taking a peep into the lives of street children, the threadbare hope and sense of identity they wrap themselves with, and their constant quest for freedom, debutant director Divyesh Gandhi’s Bandit’s Bazooka is a brave venture into the seedy underbelly of India’s capital.
Doing the rounds of several film festivals both abroad and nationally, the budget short film has been nominated at the Prague International Indie Film Festival 2022, the Jaipur International Film Festival 2023 and the Vindhya International Film Festival Madhya Pradesh 2023. It is premiering at the 28th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) today.
A neo-noir with elements of thriller and comedy
Following the footsteps of an impoverished child called Robin (perhaps a nod to his Robin Hood personality) from the alleys of old Delhi to the Yamuna ghat, who is driven by his desire to seek good despite being preyed on by corrupt forces, Bandit’s Bazooka is a neo-noir with elements of thriller and comedy.
The film shows how Robin is caught in a crossfire between the vacuous threats of a petty criminal (Piyush Kumar) and a corrupt police officer (Kuljeet Singh) who lures him with false aspirations to keep him as his informer. Taken advantage of by both, Robin finds a way to free himself from these “bandits of society” and uphold his prized sense of freedom.
“I was intrigued by the fearless ideals children like Robin are living by. They don’t identify with or crave the privileges we naturally got as children — a house, clothes, school, vacations. All they seem to want is full freedom, free of control from external sources who manipulate them for their own sake,” said Divyesh, elated on the selection at KIFF.
“The more we researched, the starker the image became. We went to Nizamuddin Basti, Mandawali Basti and NGOs like Salaam Baalak Trust, met a few kids, peeped into their world and discovered how these children are used as informers by the police and drawn into shabby deals by petty criminals, while also becoming the target of drug rackets. We felt compelled to tell their story,” added Divyesh, who has also written this film.
‘Shooting during a bitter Delhi winter in real locations was quite the challenge’
There is a lingering symbolism about Bandit’s Bazooka that toys with the idea of freedom — there is a caged mouse and there are birds murmuring against the sky, all inherently reminding the young protagonist of his need to keep himself free, and not let his life be governed by anyone else.
With heavy traits of a neo-noir, hints of magic realism, mood lighting and suggestive symbolism, the 30-minute film keeps one captivated from the opening frame to the final fading shot. Shot quirkily by a Kolkata-bred cinematographer, Arghyadeep Roy, the visuals of the film are arresting and do justice to the subject in terms of the mise-en-scène.
“The idea was to include neo-noir elements in the film and make the world of the street child come alive through jaunty chase scenes, tense reds and blues, and vignette shots. However, shooting during a bitter Delhi winter in real locations was quite the challenge,” said Arghyadeep, glad that his work will be showcased in his home city at KIFF.
Bandit’s Bazooka will be screened at the 28th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) today at 5pm at Sisir Mancha.