Movie review: On a quest to see Shah Rukh Khan

Krrish Chhabria (centre) and Hetal Gada (right) play orphan siblings who meet exotic characters on the road and learn not to judge books by their covers.
Krrish Chhabria (centre) and Hetal Gada (right) play orphan siblings who meet exotic characters on the road and learn not to judge books by their covers.PHOTO: DARPAN SINGAPORE

Two orphans journey across the deserts of Rajasthan to fulfil their dream of meeting superstar Shah Rukh Khan

REVIEW / COMEDY-DRAMA

DHANAK (TBA)

106 minutes/Opens on Saturday/3/5 stars

The story: Two orphans, Pari (Hetal Gada) and her little brother Chotu (Krrish Chhabria), live in a village with their aunt and uncle. They have a dream - to meet superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who Pari believes has the power to cure her brother's blindness. When Pari hears that Khan might be headed to their state, they run away to meet him, through the roads and across the deserts of Rajasthan.

This Hindi-language kids-ona-quest movie hits all the right feelgood spots - there is self-sacrifice, humour, quaintness and just the right amount of hugging.

If anything, it might just be a little too slickly produced, too much a polished product made for the world cinema circuit.

Though made entirely in India, it is the handiwork of India-based but America-trained writer-director Nagesh Kukunoor, an auteur with a body of award-winning film- festival work.

But for all its touchstones - everything from Cinema Paradiso (1988) to Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away (2001) - it has a fairy-tale freshness that is all its own.

Pari and Chotu are quite a pair - she the stern but indulgent older sister, exasperated by a brother whose sharp tongue and quick wit get them into trouble, as much as out of it.

On the road, they meet an exotic cast of characters whose motives range from the benign to the sinister, and they learn along the way not to judge books by their covers.

And there is a lot of learning, but Kukunoor never lets the lessons overwhelm the story.

What really sells this is the cinematography.

Kukunoor makes Rajasthan's desert landscapes come alive with yellows, blues and reds. Its people, dressed in their traditional best, pop off the screen.

This is a tour of a region rarely seen in Indian cinema. It is a culinary tour too, as the kids are plied with food from start to finish.

By the end, you will be able to tell your puri from your shira and will be starving for both.

•Dhanak is screening from Saturday at Golden Village VivoCity. Writer-director Nagesh Kukunoor will be present for a talk at the screening on June 18 at 6pm. Go to gv.com.sg for details and bookings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2016, with the headline 'On a quest to see a star'. Print Edition | Subscribe