VIFF 2011: Patang (The Kite)

It is the 30th year for the Vancouver International Film Festival. This year we saw one very special film entitled Patang (The Kite). This movie is a unique experience. The inspiring cinematography is bright, colorful and intimate. It is an intoxicating, beautiful film which transports you into the lives of these characters in the old city of Ahmedabad, amid India’s largest kite festival. I very much enjoyed it. A special treat was to have Prashant Bhargava, the talented creator and director of the movie there to speak with us (including Vancouver’s celebrated chef Vikram Vij of Vij’s restaurant who was among the audience).

Set against the dynamic and colorful spectacle of India’s largest kite festival, the Uttarayan, The Kite is a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of energy, romance, and family turmoil. After a five-year absence, businessman Jayesh arrives in the vibrant Gujarati metropolis of Ahmedabad for a surprise visit to his once-grand ancestral home, bringing with him his grown daughter Priya and some unexpected news for the family’s future. While Jayesh is greeted with suspicion by the family matriarch Ba, his widowed sister-in-law Sudha, and resentful nephew Chakku, Priya breaks free and begins a flirtation with an earnest young local named Bobby.Synopsis

A Southern Gothic family saga transposed to India, The Kite weaves the intersecting narratives of its six characters into the lively bustle of the kite festival itself. As Priya wanders the streets among the revelry with a Super 8 camera, her footage too is incorporated into the film’s fabric, making first-time director Prashant Bhargava’s film a sumptuous experience of light, color, and music, as the family comes to terms with its fractured past and fragile dreams.


The seeds for the movie Patang were planted in 2005, when director Prashant Bhargava traveled to Ahmedabad to experience the city’s annual kite festival. “When I first witnessed the entire city on their rooftops, staring up at the sky, their kites dueling ferociously, dancing without inhibition, I had to make this film.”




Inspired by the spiritual energy of the festival, he returned the next three years, documenting his experiences with over a hundred hours of video footage. Slowly immersing himself in the ways of the old city, he became acquainted with its unwritten codes of conduct, its rhythms and secrets. Prashant would sit on a street corner for hours at a stretch and just observe. Over time, he connected with shopkeepers and street kids, gangsters and grandmothers. This process formed the foundation for developing the characters and story. As he began to write the script, Prashant realized that capturing the spirit of the festival and the city-its beauty and flow, joy and strength, healing and transcendence-would require multiple narratives. And so Patang found its shape as three interwoven stories centering on a family that reunites for the kite festival.




Shot on location with a cast of both non-actors and professionals, Patang draws from the neo-realist tradition. Preserving the naturalism of the environment guided every decision during filming, from shooting style to crew size to the process with the actors. The owner of the camera store, who ended up playing Bobby’s father, continued to conduct business during the two days of shooting at his shop. Having become a familiar presence in the old city proved indispensable in other ways as well. Prashant recalls, “We had a rapport and support from the politicians, police officers, gambling bookies, the shopkeepers and the grandmothers from my years of research.”




To encourage that naturalism and immediacy for the family scenes, Prashant inspired both his cast and crew to just live together-eat, talk, laugh, fight. Rooftop sequences were created with a group of friends, non-actors who had been flying kites together for thirty years. Renowned actor Seema Biswas co-hosted these celebrations in character, actively helping to prepare meals. Prashant had the cast improvise, shooting them in long takes. With the cameras rolling, he would whisper their objectives to them, to bring out the dramatic elements of the scene. Shanker Raman, director of photography, and Prashant shot simultaneously with two small HD cameras. Both would approach shooting as actors themselves, quiety dancing between the actor’s performances.

Patang’s joyful message and its cinematic magic developed organically from the deep roots in the life of the old city that Prashant had so carefully cultivated: “The sense of poetry and aesthetics became less of an imposed perspective and more of a view that emerged from the pride of the people and place.”



Prashant Bhargava talks about his movie Patang (the Kite) at the Apple Store in SoHO during Tribeca Film Festival on April 16,2011


Originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Dad.

1 Comment

  • Laura Clarke

    woah.  how is it that your blog is linked on the official website?  nice.

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