Siddharth is a film inspired by Canadian director Richie Mehta’s (I’ll Follow You Down, 2013) chance encounter in Delhi with a man who asked him for help in finding a place called Dongri. When Mehta asked what Dongri was, the man told him that it’s a place where he thinks his lost son was kidnapped and sent to. Siddharthis Metha’s fictional exploration surrounding the disappearance of twelve-year-old Siddharth after he was sent by his father to work in another village.
Siddharth is a suspenseful and insightful drama that explores the difficulties of life for the poor and undereducated in India. Mehta has successfully crafted a film that gives the viewers a real sense of location and family—he takes you into the Saini family’s world, from living in their very small apartment to working on the busy streets of New Delhi as a chain-wallah (someone who fixes zippers). With bleak reality, Mehta shows Western viewers just how impossible life is. Siddhartha’s father, Mahendra, played by Rajesh Tailang with sensitive honesty and subtly, not only doesn’t own a photograph of his son, but also cannot take time off to search for him without losing money to feed his family. Despite the film’s harsh realities, Mehta successfully stays clear of preaching to the audience and simply allows the film to live and breathe. Regardless of the subjects of child trafficking, family loss, and a desperate world without hope, there is an intelligently crafted sense of optimism. As an alternative to the nutrient vacant, car chase, bang-bang summer blockbusters, Siddharthis a film that is definitely worth checking out and digesting.
—John David West
Siddharth is currently playing in New York City at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, and will open in Los Angeles on July 11at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre, with a national release to follow.