Siddharth, a 2013 film conceived, written, and directed by Richie Mehta, artfully portrays resilience and the many factors that contribute to bouncing back from life’s traumas. In the story, Siddharth, the twelve year old son of Mahendra, played by Rajesh Tailang, a street chainwallah (a man who fixes zippers) in Delhi, goes missing a few weeks after he is sent by his father to work in a factory to help with the family finances. What ensues is the family’s terrible realization their son may have been abducted and their desperate attempts to locate him without the resources of literacy, money, information, and technology that most of us who have managed to get to the point of reading this post would have at our disposal.
In this interview with Richie, we discuss his inspiration for the film and is aspiration to show the capacity for coping with an inconceivable calamity. The resourcefulness, integrity, and grace Mehta has depicted, particularly in the character of Mahendra gives us courage in the face of a tragedy based on many true stories. Mehta adeptly shows the father employing every resource at his disposal to find his son, without mortgaging his or his family’s future. Mahendra accepts the bewildering truth of his situation, feels the horrific pain of his loss, relies on his strong social network, collects the funds needed for his search, and ultimately continues forth with his life knowing he has done everything in his limited power to find his son.
I found this film to be incredibly beautiful, despite the sadness of the situation described. It is indeed a story of strength, fortitude, family, love, and resilience. I also invite you to share with me your own stories of resilience, either in writing, or in conversation, privately, or to be shared with the audience of Nei Jing Now! Our endurance and capacity is fortified by others, their lives, stories, and our solidarity. Please do share.
Siddharth has been touring film festivals around the world. The next showing is in Los Angeles at the Indian Film Festival on April 11, 2014. It will also play in Beijing on April 19th at 4p, venue to be determined in typical Asian style. Fortissimo Films has acquired the rights to Siddharth and will release the films in theaters this summer. I highly recommend seeing it.
And by the way, guess what?! Siddarth just passes the Bechdel test when Siddharth’s mother and her sister talk to each other about financial help with the search. Ok, it squeaks by, but still, that’s more than most. Thanks, Richie!