A four-year-old goes on a riotous adventure in the dusty streets of Pushkar, one of the oldest cities in India and a pilgrimage site for devout Hindus.
It’s a massive playground for young Birju!
The camera follows this impish boy around dusty corners, up and down flights of stairs, to the edges of a sacred lake, and to breathtaking sights of the village.
It was pure luck and chance that the filmmaker Heeraz Marfatia located the young actor.
“I saw Vijju [the boy who plays Birju] trying to hide behind someone in the marketplace in Pushkar. When Vijju started to run away from me, I instinctively ran after him, chased him into his house and met his family, who agreed reluctantly to let their four-and-a-half year old act in a film.”
Do you remember what it was like being four? The carefree hours tumbling around with playmates, the wonder of discovering colours, learning how fast your feet can carry you? Well, this short film brings us back to that age!
‘Birju’ is Heeraz’s directorial debut and short film. It premiered at Sundance, won several awards including at the Berlin International Film Festival, and was screened at 30 film festivals around the world.
It was made for his MFA programme at the San Francisco State University, produced with a lot of goodwill: loaned camera equipment, a temporary production office, and generous filmmaking friends who donated canisters of of 35mm film stock!
Heeraz speaks more about the film and the eccentricities and contradictions of Pushkar here.
“It’s is hard to pin the place down — [Pushkar] is a holy place, where a Salvador Dali boutique and the only Lord Brahma temple in the world co-exist. The entire town is vegetarian and has a variety of cafés, like the Pink Floyd Café.”
“[…] Pushkar is not only visually vibrant but also has the tangles of a touristy place around it. Finding Birju and then shooting my film in Pushkar have been two of my biggest highs.”
‘Birju’ is part of Viddsee’s specially curated Humara Movie Channel for Indian short films!