Starring: Meghana Erande, Harsh Lunia, Omkar Kapoor
Director: Sunil Advani
When Ratan’s studious sister receives some holy ash from a wise old man to help her in securing first rank in class, his slacker friend incites Ratan to steal this ‘magical’ blessing.
Ek Ajooba is ad and documentary filmmaker Sunil Advani’s first feature film. Through the story of a few schoolkids, the film communicates the age-old adage: there is no short cut to success. No magical charms, chants or totems have the power to give you desired result. The the only path to success is through hard work and self-confidence.
Chitra (Erande) is a studious girl, who despite all her efforts, is unable to secure first position in her class. Her younger brother Ratan (Lunia) is a mediocre student who repeatedly gets hauled up by his teachers for poor performance. And being friends with slacker Baakya (Kapoor) isn’t doing him any good. When Chitra shares her concern with Guruji, a wise old family friend, he hands her some holy ash promising desired result. Baakya incites Ratan to steal the ash in order to pass in the exams. A reluctant Ratan is torn between the prospect of excelling in exams and getting out of teachers’ bad books, and stealing from his loving sister.
In a key moment in the much-adored movie, Kung Fu Panda, Po disappointed with his inability to be the promised Dragon Warrior, has an epiphany when his chef father reveals that his coveted “secret ingredient soup” has no secret ingredient. “To make something special you just believe it’s special,” says Mr Ping. As the silver haired, white clad Guruji in Ek Ajooba, Amrish Puri inspires the same sentiment that it’s the belief that will take you places.
Advani’s intention of maintaining suspense around the exam results and the film’s moral message right up to the climax is understandable, but the unfolding of the final events falters in execution looking rather ill-conceived.
Ek Ajooba has an interesting cast. It stars two popular child artistes from the late Nineties. Harsh Lunia — better-known as Just Mohabbat‘s Jai — plays the guilt-ridden Ratan, and Master Omkar of the Chhota bachcha jaan ke (Masoom, 1996) fame is the wily Baakya. As Chitra is the sweet-sounding Meghana Erande, who has gone on to become one of country’s leading voice artistes. Having voiced several cartoon characters like Noddy, Dexter’s Laboratory’s Dee Dee, Ninja Hattori and Bob The Builder’s Dizzy, she is now a part of another generation’s childhood.
Watch: Ek Ajooba