Starring : Yakub Sheikh, Ram Awana, Saroj Bhargav
Director: AK Bir
At times, no amount of advice, reasoning or reprimanding gets a child to act than their own realization of the situation. AK Bir’s Baaja tells the story of 11-year-old Shibu (Sheikh), who when faced with unexpected circumstances discovers his true caliber and learns an important life lesson.
A thoughtful, carefree boy, Shibu is sent off by his mother to live with his uncle’s family in the city and study. Reluctant to leave his old village life behind and struggling to accept his new environs, Shibu remains restless and sometimes belligerent — much to the discontentment of his guardians. Shibu’s only source of comfort is a mouth organ, which he won in a game of dare from another boy who handed it to him grudgingly.
When tasked by his uncle to deliver a pair of mended shoes to a client’s house, Shibu sets out on a tour of sorts around this new unexplored city with his dear mouth organ for company. Following the city-through-a-child’s-eyes theme, the audience travel through the narrow alleys of Shibu’s dingy colony, streets bustling with activity and general air of city life, neatly planned upscale localities, and stony paths of modest old neighbourhoods.
As the young boy observes the various vignettes of life, he comes across people — both kind and cunning, amiable and apprehensive. Shibu’s day takes an adventurous turn when he finds an old lady and her grandchild — who he had befriended earlier — in a precarious condition. With some quick thinking Shibu gives first aid to the grandma left injured by a burglar, tends to the frightened infant, and rushes for help.
Even as he receives no response from the unmindful neighbours, Shibu doesn’t lose composure. The plucky young boy, despite his unfamiliarity with the surroundings, decides to take charge of the baby and seek medical assistance.
Shibu’s presence of mind saves the grandma’s life and thwarts anything unfortunate happening to the baby. His savviness and benevolence wins Shibu admiration and good will. The young boy is, while elated with the happy ending, also ends up learning an important life lesson.
Awards: National Film Award for Best Children’s Film (Year 2003)