a children's film
Children’s Day was a day of stars.
Seeing them in the daylight,
with all the running around checking out whether my production support crew in the village, aka the pillars of this film, were comfortable in their guest house, since they are not official invitees at the festival,
making their delegate passes amidst a crowd of atleast a hundred people being attended to by 1 person, who needed forms in triplicates, and had to write down each form number before she gave out blank forms,
then shouting and using my filmmaker card which felt kind of shitty amidst the general public who were going through a lot of hassle to get their passes because they want to watch the films,
then recovering sense and finding a liaison person to get passes for my crew,
convoluted negotiations with rickshaw-walas where I pretend I know where we are going, and as it turns out, that sometimes I do know more than them.
The usual chaos.
I had arrived in Hyderabad, already tense because the children had reached before me early in the morning, after a 48 hour journey from the village, and had been made to wait for 4 hours before they got a hotel room.
I tried to speak to different people, either their phones were switched off, the landlines kept ringing, or they were just rude or indifferent. Needless to say there were no apologies. But even worse, there was no information either. Or it had to be extracted bit by bit, from various sources, and conjecture, like some heavy handed detective work.
Anyway, the children are living in another hotel with their official escort, Prem Singh, Pavan’s father, amidst 500 other children delegates. The filmmakers including me, are staying in another hotel.
We were unable to either get through to Prem Singh most of the day, or were otherwise busy. I thought I would meet them in the evening at the official opening ceremony.
This was at the Public Gardens, crowded with over 3500 adults and children, screaming, clapping, cheering. Why had I imagined that I would walk in, and there the children would be.
Prem Singh was still not picking up his phone. Some volunteers told me that the children delegates had their official function at some other place altogether, though the place was packed with children. It did not make any sense.
After a couple of hours of restless twisting of neck, I decided to walk around the entire enclosure. I made my way through hordes of children, for all purposes looking like a kid-snatcher as I peered hard at the children around me, now, which one shall I take back to my gingerbread house?
I got through Prem Singh once, but we could not hear each other over the noise. I kept walking.
And finally, someone came and touched me. I looked, and there they were – the kids, looking as gorgeous as they always do, smiling, beaming, having popcorn, having fun.
They had been happy all day, watching TV in their room, eating, being mischievous as usual, driving Prem Singh crazy. They are having a good time.
I felt as if I had found them, after a long quest. It was the end of the day, the end of the evening.
Hopefully, today will be a quieter day.
Meanwhile, here they are. The 5 stars.
And here is another star, who received a lot of applause, cheers and catcalls from the children, and who I watched with equal excitement because of Dhanno, who sadly could not come to the festival, because of some inane organisational reasons. Festival policy, they said, which does not make any sense either.