Killa (2014) – Avinash Arun’s intimate and evocative portrayal of childhood angst

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Here is an Indian film that manages to do so much by doing so little and deliver a final result that most Indian directors haven’t been capable of achieving in a while. The last time an Indian film delved into a similar territory and moved me so much was Amol Gupte’s Stanley ka Dabba. I’m completely speechless right now. The child protagonist in the film Chinmay (played by Archit Davadhar) is almost my mirror image and I felt like someone has made a film about my childhood days. There are small differences of course. Killa is a tale of a 11-yr old Indian boy who is forced to shift to a new town as a result of his mother (played by Amruta Subhash) getting transferred from her previous job.

We can see that this is not the first time she has been transferred and this is obviously not making things easier for the Chinmay. No child can take it, especially if you are an introvert. Chinmay is one, and to add to that, he has lost his father recently. He is an intelligent student who has always stood first in his class. Naturally, he feels like an outsider when he moves into this new school where most of the kids seem like delinquents. The unruly atmosphere of the class makes him uncomfortable and naturally he finds it so hard to fit in. He finds that he has very little in common with the other kids. He sometimes has terrible mood swings and sometimes takes out his frustration on his mom.

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Meanwhile, his mom is going through a similar situation at her new workplace. She is one of idealistic office workers who prefers to do things by the book. She doesn’t like the way things are done there and realizes that she has ended up once again in just another dishonest setting where officers would rather keep quiet and do as they are told than point out malpractices. She, just like her son, feels like a fish out of water. But she keeps these things to herself and Chinmay is unable to see it. Chinmay gradually gets accepted into a gang formed by his peers Bandya (played by Parth Bhalerao), Yuvraj (played by (Gaurish Gawde) and some others. Yuvraj is the leader of this gang and walks around like a mafia don.

Chinmay slowly steps out of his comfort zone and takes part in various fun activities with them. At one point, they pick up crabs from the seashore and sell them at a local fish market. The director Avinash Arun has handled the cinematography himself and takes advantage of the simple landscape and comes up with some truly stunning and evocative images. There are so much thoughts and feelings conveyed here without resorting to too much sentimentality or melodrama. I haven’t seen many films that have captured the angst of childhood as accurately and intimately as this one did. It brought back so many vivid memories, some of them that I thought I had forgotten. And the performances from all the child actors are exceptional, especially those of Parth Bhalerao and Gaurish Gawde. And Amrutha Subash delivers a remarkably understated performance as the mother. It’s a coming-of-age tale told well.

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