children of heaven

“Don’t tell father about it, please. We will both be punished”, says Ali to his sister Zahra, a brother-sister combination that reminded me a lot about my own childhood. Excepting of course, the fact that my equation with my sister was often filled with fighting, even violence during our early years. Ali and Zahra, on the contrary, seemed to have learned the art of coexistence, something that remains a mystery to the majority of the adult world.

One look at his eyes, the depth in them, the candid reflection of reality as that 12 odd year old had perceived it and we knew Ali had grown up, a growth that had happened earlier than it was meant to. From a limited standpoint, his childhood, like that of many of the not so privileged, had been snatched away from him quite fast. He was forced to face the truth, that some may describe to be bitter, and he had learned to accept it with a certain cheer that in my opinion is rare, more so for such a young heart. And yet, the world had not made him the bitter cynic that many of us grown ups invariably turn out to be.

Bacheha-Ye aseman is a simple movie that doesn’t have much of a beginning or for that matter, an end. It is one of those movies that starts off nowhere, but leaves a mark. My experience with movies is predominantly restricted to popular flicks, for I confine it to actually going to the cinema. Bums don’t have fancy home theatre systems, and watching it on a computer or television, to me, would be a gross insult to the idea of movie making! So when this one was screened at a recent forum of educationists that I had been to, I decided to watch it, more out of curiosity of what a Persian movie would be like than anything else.

The opening shot shows just a pair of hands, those of a cobbler deftly mending a pair of shoes. Ali collects his sister’s shoes, thanks the cobbler and runs off towards home. He stops en route at the vegetable vendor’s, where he inadvertently loses the shoes. Realizing that his family does not have enough money to buy his sister a new pair of shoes, he requests her not to mention the loss to their parents. As to how she would go to school without shoes, he comes up with a plan where she would wear his sneakers in the morning and go to school. After she would return, he would get back his shoes so that he may go to school in the afternoon.

An ingenious plan, that goes on to throw many an adventure in the young lives, including the once when Zahra – owing to the fact that her brother’s shoes are too big for her feet – drops one of them in a small canal, and runs all along with the flow of the water, trying desperately to retrieve the lost shoe. Children of Heaven is about the blemish less innocence of childhood, about love and about a family where there is happiness in the midst of hardship.

I am not much of a critic, in the sense I don’t understand the technicalities of scripting and screenplay and what not. The fact that adversity teaches us a lot is something that I have had the good fortune to personally experience at different times in life. It is this aspect, among others, that the movie so beautifully portrays. And what is most striking is that in doing so, it employs the most beautiful of God’s creation – children.


14 thoughts on “children of heaven

  1. Seems like a simple, nice film. I once saw a similar Iranian film about a child who does not have an umbrella, and gets wet in the rain while her friends have colourful umbrellas. Finally this kid gets her own umbrella…the greatest moment in the film is when she gets to share her umbrella with another kid who doesn’t have one….very touching.

  2. Some television guy decided that this movie was worth screening and about a few months back, this movie appeared on, I think, Zee Sudios when they played a lot of foreign films, some Oscar winners as well. I happened to watch it then, and agree with you that for a movie that has nothing much in it, it is very well made, touching and beautiful. Made me relive my childhood dream of wanting to explore the Amazon basin. If tattered sneakers can make a kid run a race for his family, why can’t we adults retain that innocence and make our dreams a reality!

  3. I’ve also contemplated the matter of writing movie and music reviews without a critics background knowledge, and although it might be said to be essential for the working critic, there’s something fresh and unaffected about a layman’s interpretation. A knowingness of aesthetics, of art and beauty in meaningfulness, runs deeply through the vein of humanity. We know it when we see it, hear it, feel it. This movie sounds enriching, so I’ve put it on my movie list…although, unlike you, I will be able to commit the abomination of watching it on a commonplace TV set! 😉

  4. Ooh! such a simple story and I can imagine how Poignant it would turn out to be on big screen. These masters have a way of noticing the most trivial and making a masterpiece out of them. Really!

  5. JACKFRUIT,pls do. its definitely worth watchingSADHANA,that sounds interesting. can u gimme the name of the film? it could in all probability be the same director too – majid majidi is his name, he’s made quite a few.GAURI,what poem? share pliss :)SHARMISHTA,welcome aboard :)this was nominated to the oscars, but i think lost out to ‘life is beautiful’.yes, we adults need a lot of imagination, well said!do keep coming by, and thanks!BACKPAKKER,we probably have. but i suppose that we some effort we can gain it back too,the same ‘it’ that u mean :)SITARAM,welcome! whats the darjeeling movie about? darjeeling, obvisouly, but what else? :PMISSALISTER,thanks for your thoughts – as always, it is such a pleasure to have you’ve made me think – yet again! this time, it is questioning the critic’s job. if, as you say, and i do agree with you, that we all have an inherent sense of appreciation towards the arts, then, are we rendering a critic virtually jobless?oh, and i hope you’ll end you contemplation soon, and churn out a review or two – i for one would love to hear about your view of things. and am sure like always, it’ll make interesting reading and great food for @ the referece to the TV set :)SMITA,yes, master indeed. and being the avid watcher of off beat movies (unlike me, who usually doesn’t look beyind the box office) i do hoep u get to watch this one soon.

  6. ‘Children of heaven’ is one of the most b’ful movies i’ve seen till date. i was screened in one of the film festivals in pune 2 years ago. It’s such a simple story narrated through such brilliant performances. May i suggest another movie by the same director, Mr. Majid Majidi – Colours of Paradise. Do watch it, its brilliant.

  7. dey,how can you say children at the God’s best creation? isnt all life equally beautiful? look at the innocence and beauty of a group of puppies, a pride of lion cubs or seal pups. i mean the young of every species is beautiful in a way and more beautiful is the life thats all around eh? just drunk i guess, i am. he he. SRK

  8. ANON,the ‘dey’ in your comment sounds familiar. :)well, in a way, all of creation is beautiful, yes. i haven’t employed the word ‘best’ if u notice. and beauty, as they say, is very subjective. i just feel that the best of human intelligence expresses through children, who happen to be naturally uninhibited. 🙂

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