Banners: Eros International, Trinity
Pictures Franchise, Amole Gupte
Producers: Jyoti Deshpande, Ajit
Thakur, Amole Gupte
Director: Amole Gupte
Cast: Kushmeet Gill, Manmeet Singh,
Surekha Sikri, Rajesh Puri, Sushmita
Mukherjee, Putul Guha, Amole Gupte &
Divya Dutta (sa)
Writer: Amole Gupte
Music: Mujtaba Aziz Naza
A film entirely dedicated to children is a rare phenomenon in Bollywood but, every once in a while, writer-directors like Amole Gupte put in their best efforts to bring to the screen a film that can be savoured not only by the bacha party but by grown-ups too. His latest offering Sniff is another attempt to contribute to the largely ignored children’s cinema of India.
While Sniff may not be your Stanely Ka Dabba, the director yet again succeeds in beautifully capturing the essence of childhood in this youngest spy-superhero film.
The movie opens with some excellently shot, overhead food shots (another ode to food after the recent Bareilly Ki Barfi) and soon introduces us to our tiny adorable hero – Sunny Gill (Kushmeet).
While at first glance, everything about Sunny seems fine, the fact is he can’t smell. Sunny is born with a defunct olfactory nerve because of which he has no sense of smell, much to the agony of his father (Manmeet Singh) and grandmother (Surekha Sikri), who run a pickle making business. The poor kid is also being subjected to teasing by his peers at school because of his inability to smell. All this makes Sunny a depressed young kid, who pens his pain in an essay on ‘nose.’
However, one day, an accident in an old school laboratory changes Sunny’s life forever. The incident not only unblocks his nose but also heightens his olfactory sense. As a result, now Sunny can smell as far as 2 km!
Sunny soon becomes popular in his neighbourhood and school because of his new-found ability to sniff. He can tell what his classmates ate for breakfast and dinner, who his neighbour’s husband is secretly dating, who stole his teacher’s wallet – all through the superpower of his nose. His nose eventually leads him to a huge car-robbery scandal. Whether or not he manages to solve the mystery of the missing car in his housing society forms the rest of the film.
The film’s simplicity is charming and Amole Gupte brilliantly brings to the screen some everyday people and scenes. But the film doesn’t move you enough, like his earlier works. Having said that, Sniff has some really memorable moments and interesting characters that compensate for its other failings. So, there’s the old watchman, the housing society meetings that constantly drift from the main topic of discussion, the hen-pecked Bengali husband Supan (Putul Guha), who is either getting slapped by his police-officer wife (Sushmita Mukherjee) or sneakily satiating his sweet tooth with ladoos, sandesh and modak, or the subtle references to great filmmakers like Bimal Roy and Ritwik Ghatak… the director does add some fine touches to the film. While the cinematography by Manush Nandan wonderfully complements the narrative, crisper editing in the second half would have benefitted the film.
Performance-wise, Sniff definitely belongs to our tiny hero – Kushmeet. The kid excels in every scene including the most complex sequences. Other child stars along with Kushmeet too deserve a special mention for their sincere and adorable performances. Kudos to Gupte for bringing out the best in these young actors. Besides the young brigade of actors, the film also has some veteran actors like Rajesh Puri, Sushmita Mukherjee, Putul Guha and Sureka Sikri, who lend adequate support to the film.
Verdict: Sniff may have its flaws but is a sweet film that is worth watching with your li’l tots this long weekend.