In one particular scene in the movie, Pankaj Kapur, apparently unaware of the abstruse connotation of the statement says, “To acquire something that gives peace of mind, one does not see profit or loss.” And that captures the spirit of this heartfelt story, which makes one appreciate the simple joys of life.
Set in a picturesque village, tucked away in the mountains in Himachal Pradesh, the film starts with the shrewd tea-stall owner, Nand Kishor Khatri (Pankaj Kapur), listening to his fate on the fortune telling robotic machine, assured by its owner that he would one day be richer than Bill Gates. He derives pleasure out of seizing small possessions from children. Biniya, an eleven-year-old girl in the village (played by Shweta), trades her lucky pendant for a beautiful ornate blue umbrella, given to her by a Japanese tourist. Soon thereafter, the umbrella becomes a part and parcel of her life and the envy of all the villagers. Biniya and the umbrella become inseparable, with the umbrella becoming a part of all the games that the village children play. Khatri incessantly tries to convince Biniya to sell her umbrella to him, but all the efforts go futile. The story takes a turn when Biniya loses her umbrella and accuses Khatri for the theft. What follows is a remarkable story of greed, desire, guilt and sacrifice.
Director Vishal Bharadwaj once again puts on show his directorial excellence, never failing to capture the audience’s attention. It goes without saying that Pankaj Kapur’s on screen portrayal of the conniving shopkeeper takes the film forward. Shweta as the mischievous village girl is convincing and looks totally at ease in the skin of her character. The background score supplements the feel of the film and all the songs seamlessly fit in to the script.
The most outstanding achievement of the film has to be its cinematography, a work skillfully done by Sachin Kumar Krishnan. Every frame is full of fresh colours, which transport you to the mountains and the fresh air. The shots without dialogues speak for themselves as they capture human emotions in silence.
Clearly the protagonist of the film is “The Blue Umbrella”, symbolizing companionship and bliss for the little girl. For Kathri it was an object he yearned for, which later escalates his status in society. All along, the umbrella maneuvers the series of events that lead the film to its end. Although it’s primarily a children’s movie, it can be enjoyed and cherished by all ages alike.