The Little Terrorist Hindi Short Film
Indian filmmakers, at least the ones who matter, usually have one eye on the Oscars, while the other eye takes care of things back home, while making a film. Hence every year, it is considered a great honor, for a film to be chosen to represent India at the Oscars. Being nominated, is almost as satisfying as winning the award itself. Even as Indians were recovering from the shock of 'Lagaan' not winning an award, another blow struck them, as 'Shwaas' failed to get a nomination. The focus automatically shifted to a fifteen-minute short film called 'Little Terrorist', which was nominated for the Academy awards. As promotions went into full swing, the film was released in India too, and was coupled to a few big films like Black and Bewafaa, so that the audience got to see the film.
Ashwin Kumar, who has earlier done dramas and plays, did a film called 'The Road to Ladakh' in 2002, which won him quite a few accolades. In Little Terrorist, he tells the story of a 10-year-old Pakistani boy Jamaal, who is a resident of one of the many villages that dot the Indo-Pak border, somewhere in Rajasthan. Inadvertently, while playing cricket with his friends, Jamaal chases the ball into no man's land, panics on hearing the security forces firing into the air, and without thinking for a second, crosses over into India, to save his life. With the men in uniform in hot pursuit, Jamaal (who is instantly branded a terrorist) receives unexpected help and support from an old school teacher and his daughter, who hide him, feed him, and eventually take him back to his home, across the border.
Short films must be one of the most difficult ones to make, for one gets very little time and scope to tell a good story. Little Terrorist is a good but not a great story. But it is a story of humanity itself. It's a story of going beyond manmade borders, religions, nationalities and distinctions. It's a story of love and selflessness. The entire world today is constantly under terrorist threat, but the film brings home the point that not everyone from a particular country or religion is a terrorist.
Little terrorist also focuses on one important point-that of listening to one's own heart. The easiest thing for the Indian school master in the film to do would have been to hand over the boy to the armed forces. But the teacher listens to his own conscience, which tells him that this 10 year old cannot be a terrorist. And he risks his life and name to rescue the boy. One wishes that such acts of bravery and humanity were more a part of real life.
The entire crew and cast have apparently done the film for free, which is a commendable thing. Shooting amidst trying conditions in the deserts of Rajasthan, the cast and crew have turned out a good film, a film which is global in its appeal and relevance, and which will touch your heart. Though the film did not win the Oscars, it did win a whole lot of other awards and recognition. The film also highlights one very important facet of life-that the world was without borders and distinctions, once upon a time, till man decided to divide it. It is now up to man to remove these divisions.