Taryanche Bait shows how the big, bad metropolis has a father and son on tenterhooks

Imagine this: A father prays to Lord Ganesha and promises a coconut as an offering if his son stands second in the class rather than first. And the son, on his part, offers prayers to the same god promising two coconuts if he stands first. Not an ideal situation for a happy family, isn't it?

The Marathi film Taryanche Bait (An Island of Stars) throws up interesting situations like these. The bitter-sweet tale, released in summer of 2011, is now endearing audience at the 17th International Children's Film of Festival of India in the Indian Competition section. Co-produced by Neeraj Pandey (director of the much-acclaimed A Wednesday) and Studio Alt Entertainment, the film takes us into the simple world of a family that's thrown into an emotional turmoil after a chance visit to the big, bad metropolis.

Starring Sachin Khedekar as the father Sridhar, the film introduces us to the picture-perfect life of a clerk and his family who lead a content life in a Konkan village. Trouble begins with Sachin Khedekar takes his family along with him to Mumbai on an official visit. The son, Omkar, is bedazzled with Mumbai and immediately realises what a humble, in fact ordinary, existence they have lived all along. He is drawn by the magnificence of a five-star hotel as against a non-descript guest house where they end up staying. Sachin ultimately tells the boy that he will get to spend a day in the five-star hotel provided he tops the class.

“This was a beautiful story that came to us through two Film and Television of Institute, Pune, graduates. I felt that this story had to be told. Initially it was proposed in Hindi but I felt the native connect would be better in Marathi,” says Neeraj Pandey. Along with director, Kiran Yadnyopavit, Neeraj set about working on the project. Sachin Khedekar was the first and only choice for the father. “If he hadn't come on board we would have perhaps shelved the project. After the film's release, Sachin happened to win a host of awards in the Marathi industry,” says Neeraj.

Ideally pitched as a social drama, Neeraj is surprised that the film was selected for the Children's Film Festival. “In fact we told the organisers that the film was just a family drama and not made with an intention of targeting children. But they felt the film would appeal to older children and took it up. Nevertheless, we are happy that the film has appealed to a wide section of people ever since its release,” he adds.

Interestingly,Dekh Indian Circus, another film featured in the competition section, also makes a comment on the urban-rural divide. “Our intention was to only showcase the simple story and not dwell on the urban-rural divide,” says Neeraj.