Directed by Richie Mehta
Official Selection, 2013 Venice Film Festival
Official Selection, 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2014 International Film Festival of Rotterdam
There are labor laws that keep 12-year-olds like Siddharth from the workforce, but for struggling zipper-repairman Mahendra, it makes perfect sense to send his son off to work in another province. The questions start around Diwali, when Siddharth uncharacteristically doesn’t return home. Some tell Mahendra his son probably ran away. But others whisper the more likely possibility: that Siddharth, like thousands of other Indian children each year, was abducted.
With the precision of a thriller but the aching heart of a family drama, South Asian Canadian director Richie Mehta captures a father’s desperation through the sheer pragmatics of investigation and survival. Mahendra finds supporters, but he must navigate the red tape of bureaucracy without the middle-class luxuries of photographs and other documents. How Mehta delicately captures this cavernous struggle while still delivering social realism, drama, and hope makes SIDDHARTH an uncommon accomplishment that never drags audiences through the mud of poverty and pays tribute to the dignity of the true story it was based on. –Brian Hu