Children from juvenile homes shine in Nag Gottap's ‘Sikharam'

Nag Gottap, an advertising professional turned short filmmaker, had Rs. 40 lakh, with which he hoped to buy an apartment. But his love for films made him do a rethink. He considered making a 90-minute film that will take viewers into the heartland of Andhra Pradesh and capture the lives of people in a remote tribal village near Paderu. It was going to be a risky proposition, but he went ahead and the result is Sikharam, which will be screened in the world cinema category during the 17th International Children's Film Festival of India this week in the city.

What sets the film apart is that the children in the film are from juvenile homes in Hyderabad, Vizag, Nellore, Warangal, Tirupati and Kadapa. “An ailing mother who lives in a remote tribal village has to be taken to a far-off hospital in the city. The family lives as an outcaste from the village and has no help. The film shows the journey of the son and the daughter with their mother through the rough terrain of the hills, forests and lakes before they reach the hospital. As innocent children, they have no clue about the world outside their village and have to come to terms with reality during the journey. Along the way, they befriend other children who come to their rescue,” says Nag.

The team met more than 5000 children for the film. “Some of the children were talented but parents were apprehensive about them acting in this film. Finally, we chose 60 children from juvenile homes from which we short listed 11. A month-long training camp prepared them for the film. The children were amazing and took to the rough terrains without complaining,” informs Nag.

Sikharam has music by Radhakrishna, cinematography by Y.S.N. Murty and editing by 18-year-old Sivateja, a student of JNTU. After the ICFFI, the film will also be featured in the New York Film Festival in March 2012, informs Nag. “I tried to keep the film as real as possible, inspired by Iranian cinema,” he says.