I was surfing around this morning and on Star Movies I chanced upon 'Children of Heaven' the highly acclaimed Irani movie. I have been hearing about this movie for ages and I was so glad that I had an opportunity to see it, though I must have missed about 20 minutes or so.
It's brilliant the way it draws you in. From when I started seeing the movie, I figured the the two children, Ali and his younger sister Zahra, keep exchanging the one pair of sneakers they have between them. Ali has lost Zahra's sneakers and they know their father cannot afford any expense, so they use the same pair of sneakers since their school timings are different. Zahra goes first with her outsized sneakers, feeling all ashamed, looking at shoes all around her. She finishes school, races back several streets to meet her brother, where they exchange the sneakers and she heads home while Ali goes to school. Sometimes she gets delayed and Ali gets delayed too. Its heart wrenching to see the two stoically go about their life like that. Ali constantly refuses to play soccer because he cannot afford to spoil the one pair of sneakers they have. But he is a good student and gets rewarded for good performance. Zahra peers into shoe shops, tells Ali she does not want these sneakers any more.
There is a scene when one shoe flies off the flailing feet of Zahra as she runs to her brother after school and falls in the drain. Zahra chases the shoe which goes and gets stuck under a big drain and she stops by it, crying. She can see it but cannot reach it. And then a shop keeper steps in, frees the shoe and he returns it to her. Ah, if the shoe had been lost I would have killed the director then.
The announcement of a long distance race for prizes and Ali's non-participation in it due to not having shoes goes on until Ali realises that the third prize is that of a pair of sneakers. He goes to his Physical education teacher and cries his heart out asking to be included. The teacher has no go but to include him; so intense is this young guy. And he runs, thinking of the troubles his sister has had because of the shoes, his promises to her to buy sneakers, his promise to come third whatever the cost. But in the melee it turns out that however hard Ali tries to be third he ends up at the top of the pack. And the poor lad is so disappointed at not having come third that he cries on the podium.
Ah, it's beautiful. All will be well for Ali and Zahra and so many like them. They are after all, the 'Children of Heaven'.