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Film Reviews Patang: Like the kites above, a family just tries to keep afloat

3.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Patang (The Kite)
Written by
Prashant Bhargava and James Townsend
Directed by
Prashant Bhargava
Starring
Seema Biswas, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Mukkund Shukla
Genre
Drama
Classification
PG
Country
USA, India
Language
English, Hindi, Gujarati
Year
2011

First-time feature director Pranshant Bhargava's depiction of one family's unease while a city outside is in festive celebration is an unusual and often brilliant work. A wealthy businessman from Delhi returns with his teenage daughter for a family visit to Ahmedabad during that city's kite festival. Thousands of kites fill the sky during the daylong celebration, although the trick is always to keep the traditional, rudimentarily designed kites afloat.

It's an apt metaphor for the family itself. The businessman's brother is dead and the remaining family members try to keep up appearances during the festivities, that sense of forced fun, all of which the director observes with a wandering eye. The familial discontent spills out into the street life of the city, and you can practically smell the small passageways and markets.

Using a documentary-like style, the film is India as if captured by Instagram. The screen is awash with rich colours – as important as the plot – with characters, crowds and storylines wandering in and out of the frame. The film is just shy of being overstylized by Bhargava's habit of deftly bringing our attention back to the family and their subtle mannerisms amid the chaotic activity around them. The always wonderful Seema Biswas co-stars as the business man's calm sister-in-law.

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