By Balkaran Singh
India, of course, is not all call centres, burgeoning and “trickling down” urban spaces, bustling streets, resorts, colour, hub for this and that, it is also a home to multitudes caught within the clasps of have-not-ism (or ever will). There are places that have been overlooked by the second coming of India, where hard labour does not equate to corresponding financial reward. Laid on the foundations of a poverty stricken rural life, one that has been snubbed by Industrial and Global India, this is a story of a small young family and their oldest son’s dream of owning a bicycle.
One day Ganu (Muntazir Mirza), about 11, the oldest son of Bhima (Sanjiva Vats) and Suman (Nutan Sinha), witnesses one of his schoolmates riding a bicycle to school. There is excitement among the peers at school and they converge around this two-wheeled steed, and Ganu is especially taken by it. He asks his father for one, only to be turned down for lack of means – his parents, ultimately, as a result of Ganu’s persistence and an incident, relent, and decide to work harder to buy their son a bike.
But (there is always a but). Besides the main ones, there is another character in this: fate, which brings along its insensitivity.
The main cast does well enough in this short, especially Nutan Sinha and Sanjiva Vats. Although, despite his competence, Vats’s persona might feel a bit out of place as Bhima. The performance of the peripheral cast may usually go unnoticed, but is definitely vital to the cohesiveness and depiction of any film, and in this one they fall short. And that is on the casting director, and director (Charanjit Singh Kalsi), who shows signs of potential, however, at times uses stale visual effects to depict and create drama. Some might feel a disconnect with his direction of the film. And perhaps a hoppy script doesn’t help his cause.
If there is a message in here, it must be Perspective, and Reality – that there are those who simply don’t have enough to fulfil a humble dream, and no volume of hardwork can guarantee them achieving it. And perhaps, there is a message of Hope too. And maybe there is no message. Whatever the case might be, Wheels of Hope does not make its mind up within its 20 minute life. The story, perhaps, had potential too, however, after an initial countdown it doesn’t seem to take off. It hovers, it flutters, and that is all it does.
Besides consulting in the cultural, creative and communication spheres, Balkaran engages in social-justice and political drives. And writes. Among other things.