Patang emerges with remarkable subtlety

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      Starring Mukkund Shukla, Sugandha Garg, and Seema Biswas. In Hindi and Gujarati with English subtitles. Rated PG. Opens Friday, June 22, at the Denman Cinemas

      Patang (The Kite) is writer-director Prashant Bhargava’s feature film debut. A native of Chicago, Bhargava was inspired to make Patang when he travelled to the Indian city of Ahmeddabad, Gujarat, to attend the yearly kite festival.

      The festival—a famous local celebration with innumerable soaring kites—forms the colourful backdrop of the film, a deeply moving examination of an Indian family struggling to find common ground while respecting its members’ different lifestyles.

      Jayesh (Mukkund Shukla) is a successful businessman based in Delhi. In an effort to reconnect with both his roots and his estranged relatives, Jayesh goes back to his hometown to attend the kite festival. His upwardly mobile wife stays behind to attend a winetasting. But—hoping to share some memories of his carefree childhood—Jayesh takes along his grown daughter, Priya (Sugandha Garg).

      Initially, everything seems to be going well. Jayesh’s sister-in-law Sudha (Seema Biswas) is clearly glad to see him, and Priya discovers the quiet charm of a local merchant named Bobby (Aakash Maheriya). It’s Jayesh’s nephew Chakku (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), though, who cracks the happy veneer by expressing his underlying resentment. The bitter Chakku blames his uncle for abandoning his late father. Jayesh, who wants to make amends in his own way, sees no reason to apologize for his ambition.

      In the hands of a less accomplished filmmaker, the plot could read like a soap opera. Thankfully, Bhargava opts for the kind of tender approach that allows events to emerge with remarkable subtlety. It’s refreshing to watch a young director with enough confidence in his story to let it evolve so naturally.

      The cast—a blend of seasoned pros and some truly gifted beginners—is flawless. Aided by the evocative cinematography of Shanker Raman, Patang soars as high as anyone could possibly wish.

      Watch the trailer for Patang.