- Rutwij Nakhwa
Two slum dwelling brothers get obsessed with eating a pizza from a store that has replaced, what so far was their playing ground. What may seem like an absurd and exaggerated plot feels more and more real, as the film holds up a mirror to our own hypocritical internalisation of materialism.
The pizza is a metaphor for all the “stuff” that we buy and give undue importance to than things which actually matter –– love, friendship, family and just basic humanity. The older brother demonstrates this best when he says, “I don’t want my father (who is imprisoned); I want pizza.” In another heart-clenching moment their grandmother (like so many of our own) tries to recreate the elusive delicacy on her meagre in-hut-stove, in form of a ‘bhakri’ topped with veggies. As expected it doesn’t stand true to the ideal of the image on the glossy marketing pamphlet that the boys have. Television adds fuel to their desires as it does to many of our own.
With their father in prison, the children don’t have the luxury of attending school, they instead collect coal off railway tracks and sell it for a ridiculous three rupees a kilo. They might be poor but are still proud and refuse the half eaten pizza that a friend offers. He belongs to the other side of the caustic economic divide and symbolically, the children only talk to him from behind the fence of a play-garden. Ultimately, through selling enough coal (albeit, with slightly dubious and even illegal means) and a bunch of odd jobs, they make just enough money. But turns out that money or even posh clothes aren’t enough for an entry for these “have-nots” into the other side. Socio-economic and caste-ist prejudice runs deep; only strengthened by the long duration for which it has existed.
As events take a fateful turn, intermingling of desires of various elements in the story make for a rousing climax. The children’s desire for pizza; their mother’s desire to bring back her husband; a local thug’s desire for making easy money is mixed with the all-pervading forces of capitalist media and business. The candy floss ending that follows might leave a bad taste for a few, but I did not mind it so much in this one.
Director Samit Kakkad has bravely shot the film on location in the real slums of Mumbai and his empathy and passion show in the ease with which the camera travels the narrow ‘gullis’ and hutments. The film is richly textured visually as well as in its sound-scape and makes for a delightful watch. I don’t remember that last time I enjoyed songs in a film so much (with the exception of ‘Sairat’) and this one has a few, which I lapped up. Kakkad has also extracted genuine and touching performances from his cast. Apart from the two lovely child-actors, Usha Naik from ‘Ek Hazarachi Note’ (2014) is exemplary as their innocent and loving grandmother.
‘Half Ticket’ is a slightly commercial remake of last year’s acclaimed Tamil film ‘Kaaka Muttai’. A ticket to the cinema hall ensures you a well-crafted package — in a film that is set on a very relevant and tragic issue but also has enough laughs and emotion to make the ride a very entertaining one. It is part of a wave of films that are aimed at commercial release but are way above typical Bollywood fanfare.
There’s no reason to give this one a miss.
'Half Ticket' is now playing at a cinema near you.
working as an intern with Uma da Cunha and her quarterly magazine 'Film India Worldwide'