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Film Review: Visually Poetic ‘Patang’ Delivers Images of Arresting Beauty

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CHICAGO – There are few things more difficult to pull off than elegant visual poetry. The line between pretension and artful provocation is a thin one indeed, and any director that attempts to construct a metaphorical mosaic runs the risk of looking foolish. Yet cinema would sure be a dull medium without artists that aimed for the stars, and that is precisely what Prashant Bhargava does in his debut feature, “Patang” (“The Kite”).

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

After garnering favorable festival buzz at Berlin, Tribeca, Chicago and Ebertfest, “Patang” is the latest indie treasure to have a screen reserved at the AMC River East 21. This is the sort of gorgeously photographed picture that practically begs to be seen on the biggest screen possible. It stands as a reminder of what truly absorbs a viewer into a film. Arresting visuals and vivid characterizations will always be more entrancing than distracting 3D effects viewed through dim lenses.

StarRead Matt Fagerholm’s full review of “Patang” in our reviews section.

Like Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Patang” is a love letter to the resilient spirit of people who live in a particularly troubled part of the world. The Indian city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat has been rocked with religious violence and earthquakes, yet still continues to prosper as one of the country’s fastest growing cities. During the January 14th festival of Uttarayan, citizens are sprawled on the rooftops while filling the air with a diverse array of kites. For a few years, Bhargava observed this festival while gathering stories about Ahmedabad’s plucky inhabitants. It was through this extensive research period that Bhargava and his writing parter James Townsend (“Lucky Number Slevin”) were able to form a trio of intersecting vignettes designed to take place during the day-long festivities. Just as Zeitlin allowed the personalities and life experiences of his non-actors to inform the details of their characters, Bhargava actively sought out townspeople who naturally fit the description of the script’s ensemble. Dialogue was freely altered and improvised, thus resulting in untold hours of footage that Bhargava somehow managed to edit down to a brisk 95 minutes. The results are often spellbinding.

‘Patang’ stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mukkund Shukla, Seema Biswas, Sugandha Garg, Aakash Maheriya and Hamid Shaikh. It was written by James Townsend and Prashant Bhargava and directed by Prashant Bhargava. It opened June 15th at AMC River East 21. It is not rated.

StarContinue reading for Matt Fagerholm’s full “Patang” review.

Hamid Shaikh stars in Prashant Bhargava’s Patang.
Hamid Shaikh stars in Prashant Bhargava’s Patang.
Photo credit: Khushi Films

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