Even Alice wouldn’t be able to brave this wonderland. Of deep mysteries, shattering myths, daayans, horrifying beliefs, dusty roads, parched lands and dried ponds. But our desi Alice, Shreya (Lehar Khan) is all set to encounter her fairy-tale dream, albeit in India’s hinterlands. Shreya, with her kid-bro Sam (Krishang Trivedi), land in their father, Dev’s ( Pravin Dabas) village for the first time, unaware that their adventures and misadventures will change the fate of a village that’s sinking (ironically, without a water-body in sight) in its self-afflicted misery. Shreya is one of a kind (she calls her father Dev, and refuses to wear anything girlie); she’s the only tomboy this backward village has ever seen, where women are as ‘covered-up’ as their deep dark secrets. With brother-in-tow, she wanders like a local gaon ki chhori, meets villagers whose mindsets are narrower than local gullis, befriends and bullies the local boys (Harsh Mayar), beats them at their games and finally crosses the most dreaded, ‘No Entry’ zone – the daayan’s haveli. On the other side, she unearths the real story, where there’s nothing puritan or pari-like. And too much water has run dry already.
Lehar Khan, with abundant enthusiasm and terrific confidence is quite the hero of this adventure. Krishang Trivedi adds dollops of cuteness, and Harsh Mayar adapts perfectly to this rural-setting and is entertaining as the gaon-ka-chhota-gunda. Parvin Dabas as the single father holds fort with his tempered performance. Tannishtha Chatterjee, as a maid, throws in her Bonglish with ease and innocence.
Director, Nila Madhab Panda (known for the much-acclaimed ‘I Am Kalam’), adeptly weaves in a stirring social message, adds a bit of mystery, folklore and suspense, without sermonizing. Though in the second half, the imagination dries up and most scenes are predictable. The eerie silences are punctuated by Midival Punditz & Ashish Chauhan’s music, adding a rustic flavour.
Dive into this adventure, you’ll find mermaids and much more.
For curious Shreya, this will turn out to be an unforgettable summer holiday. Her adventures land her in forbidden territory of a village where a dark secret awaits her.