A touching tale from Goa's Bulbul Children’s Film Fest 2024

'Kastoori', the directorial debut of Vinod Kamble, is based on the true story of a child working in a morgue
A scene from 'Kastoori', directed by debutant director, Vinod Kamble, and shown at the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival 2024, at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, recently.
A scene from 'Kastoori', directed by debutant director, Vinod Kamble, and shown at the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival 2024, at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, recently.Photo: Gomantak Times

The just concluded Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival (BCIFF), Goa’s first film festival focusing on children, showcased some of the finest in children’s cinema from across the globe.

The second day of the film festival, held at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, saw the screening of the Marathi-Hindi movie, Kastoori, directed by debutant director, Vinod Kamble.

A scene from 'Kastoori', directed by debutant director, Vinod Kamble, and shown at the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival 2024, at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, recently.
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The movie is based on the real life story of Sunny Chavan from Solapur, Maharashtra, who worked as an assistant at a hospital morgue at the young age of 14.

Kastoori is the story of Gopi (Samarth Sonawane) and his friendship with Adim (Shravan Upalkar), who also assists his father who is a butcher. Thus, both of them are fond of perfumes that can help them get away from their stinking realities.

Poster of the Marathi-Hindi movie, 'Kastoori', directed by Vinod Kamble.
Poster of the Marathi-Hindi movie, 'Kastoori', directed by Vinod Kamble.

Gopi is particularly fond of kastoori or musk perfume as it helps him get rid of foul odours due to his work, especially when he is going to school.

Gopi is a bright student, who excels in the Sanskrit language exam, but due to his family’s circumstances, he has to take up his father’s job of working in a morgue in a hospital – that involves assisting the doctor while conducting post-mortems.

He also cleans public toilets, septic tanks, garbage, etc. This brutal reality reflects the caste he is born into, and his parents and relatives are also engaged in similar work.

But, Gopi is fond of learning. So, will education help him get out of this dirt? The movie tries to explore the same.

A scene from 'Kastoori', directed by debutant director, Vinod Kamble, and shown at the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival 2024, at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, recently.
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During an interaction, director, Vinod Kamble, mentioned that the inspiration for this movie came from a news report about Sunny Chavan.

Kamble then made a short film Post Mortem (2017) on the same topic. The movie was well received at various film festivals.

A scene from 'Kastoori', directed by debutant director, Vinod Kamble, and shown at the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival 2024, at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, recently.
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Thus, he gained the confidence to make a feature film on the same subject.

He then met like-minded people at the Buddhist Festival in Nagpur, who contributed money for the film, and that led to the formation of the company, Insight Films.

Kastoori was made in 2019, and even won the Best Children’s film National Award at the 67th National Film Awards 2019. But, it took more than four years to release the movie.

Kamble is happy with the response and is planning to re-release the movie in a few cities around the country in the near future.

Kamble, who is a civil engineer, mentioned that making this movie was very personal for him since he, too, comes from a similar background. His father still works as a sanitation worker and he, as a child, did similar jobs – sweeping, cleaning garbage with his grandmother.

A scene from 'Kastoori', directed by debutant director, Vinod Kamble, and shown at the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival 2024, at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, recently.
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He said, “I thought of expressing my emotions through the medium of cinema.”

This reality is well reflected in the movie, which shows that people from the Dalit sub-caste are bound to do such jobs, which are not only inhuman, but also highly dangerous.

Reports of men dying while cleaning septic tanks (due to toxic fumes) are seen even in developed states like Goa, in spite of the fact that manual scavenging is illegal in the country.

Kamble stated that, through this movie, his endeavor is to make people aware about such realities and show some respect towards these people who actually clean the dirt created by us.

A scene from 'Kastoori', directed by debutant director, Vinod Kamble, and shown at the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival 2024, at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, recently.
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“We should be at least aware of them. Be respectful towards them. Know what is their life. How and where do they stay, eat? What about their education?” stated Kamble.

For more details about the Bulbul Children’s International Film Festival, 2024, log on to www.bciffindia.com

Arti Das is a freelance journalist based in Goa. She loves writing about art, culture and the ecology of Goa.

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