the blue umbrella poster

the blue umbrella

wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)

quick review:

A simple adorable script narrated with creative use of the camera, color and light. Pankaj Kapoor gives yet another excellent performance.

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Director: Vishal Bharadwaj
Running time: 90 minutes
Genres: Fantasy, Kids
More Movie Info

Very rarely in Hindi cinema can you say - no significant story, not everybody has acted well, but still go watch it. Every frame (well almost!) is enchanting. And the going is slow, so you have enough time to take in every detail.

Yes, the movie is a fairy tale and is narrated as such. Melodrama is used where a parent would use exaggerated voice modulation to narrate the story. But, I still wouldn't call it a children's movie. It is very unlikely that the hues, the pace, or the subtle sense of humor are going to retain a child's attention. On the other hand, it is a very short movie and what a perfect way this would be to introduce the art that cinema is to children! And yes parents, there is a moral at the end of the story.

The camerawork, both indoors and outdoors, is simply breathtaking. Himachal Pradesh's tourism department could very well use scenes from here to advertise its scenic beauty. Though the interiors are largely shot in the dark, the lighting and colors are used to beautify the scenes to perfection. A few scenes are shot from the point of view of a character or an object, allowing you to see what they/it are seeing - here the camera in combination with the background score has been used to enhance the emotion sought to be created (read more in the "what worked" section). There were a few frames that were outright ugly, almost felt like they were shot by a different camera crew altogether. But, after a while, I noticed that such shots were used specifically for the darker characters. Maybe it wasn't intentional, but if the viewer feels obligated to rationalize the things they don't like, the director has done his job well, right?

The simple story is complemented by simple music which is soft on the ears. The lyrics very appropriately followed a child's train of thoughts. Reminded me a lot of Gulzar's own 'lakdi ki kaathi' from Masoom - a song that I grew up listening to. The lyrics especially stood out when the umbrella, an inanimate object, was being spoken of as a lover.

What stuck out as a sore thumb was the acting by all the side characters. In fact, the little girl's performance was also not up to mark. It was lifeless and flat. Pankaj Kapoor however, made up for all of it with brilliant body language. And this movie is more about the artistic representation of the subject, more than any individual performance. Though, the movie is about the characters, it is not a character driven script. Here I go rationalizing again!

This movie is as much a trip to fantasy land as it is an experiment with the medium through creative use of camera, lighting, music and color. A work of art that is very rarely made available to the common movie-going population. So, catch it while it is still in the theaters, because a DVD might not do full justice to the overall effort.

- meeta, a part of the audience

13 reviewers(?) - 12 yays 0 so-so 1 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Aparajita Ghosh, Apun Ka Choice : ...‘Blue Umbrella’ has a well-balanced blend of fable and realism.... full review

Thumbs up, by Blogeswari Ammal, Blogeswari : ...You go 'wow' everytime there is a crane shot or a long shot of the picturisque village... full review

Thumbs up, : ...this film is sure to bring a smile to one's face... full review

Thumbs up, by Priyanka Haldipur, Deccan Herald : ...sit back to enjoy every bit of Vishal Bhardwaj’s handiwork that comes your way... full review

Thumbs up, by Aprajita Anil, Express India : ...The beauty with which he captures the moments gives out a gripping fragrance.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Blue Umbrella seems too small, too personal and too simple a story for the big screen... full review

Thumbs up, by Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM : ...Vishal Bhardwaj has a knack of narrating a story well and also extracting wonderful performances from the cast... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Now : ...bolstered by some genuinely lucid, near-lyrical photography by Sachin Kumar Krishnan.... full review

Thumbs up, by Tushar, Passion for Cinema : ...Blue Umbrella is an ode to the innocent faced fables of Doordarshan days... full review

Thumbs up, by Hanumant Bhansali, Radio Sargam : ...He manages to extract convicing performances from all his characters.... full review

Thumbs up, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...The film, slow in the beginning, works magnificently on the whole.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...Young Shreya as the hillside lass is cunning and cute, in the same breath.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sanjay Ram, Business of Cinema : ...n a way indulgence fills the film, everything is worked upon as though to prove a point and satisfy the creative hunger burning within.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

An old grocery shop owner, Nandkishore Khatri (Pankaj Kapoor) is enchanted by a little girl's blue umbrella. He loves collecting things that catch his fancy and the girl doesn't want to part with her umbrella. How they deal with the situation is what the movie is all about.

What Worked

  • The picturization of the titles.
  • Camera work in these specific cases -
    • point of view shot of the umbrella swaying in the air makes you curious about what the girl is enchanted by
    • point of view shot of the snake makes you feel anxious as to what is approaching the girl from such a low angle
    • complex camera movement to show Pankaj Kapoor looking for something in his belongings - makes you really wonder what he is looking for - its almost as if the camera movements are choreographed to match his movements.
  • In the sad song, Biniya's sadness is appropriately told to the audience by the lyrics and is symbolized using a waterfall in the background.
  • Nandkishore Khatri's face is hidden by balloons when he gets his umbrella. In a way giving relief to the audience that Biniya is at least saved the grief of seeing him have something she has lost.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • The scene in which Biniya is running away from Khatri (towards the end of the movie). The repeat action cuts didn't quite work for me.


This section lists things that I think are not important to the overall impact of the movie. In most cases, it could be explained away by something like, "we noticed the glitch after the scene was shot and there were schedule/budget issues and thus we could not re-shoot it". I like giving the makers the benefit of doubt, but I am amused nevertheless. Hopefully, they will tickle you too.

  • Why is Biniya (Shreya Sharma) roaming around the village alone at night?
  • Why does Khatri need help closing an umbrella that he has closed earlier?

the blue umbrella - Cast, crew, links

Background Score:
Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Art Direction:
Running time:
90 minutes

Comments (2)

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You are right, Anurag, it is indeed Himachal Pradesh. Slip of the mind - aplogies...and thanks for pointing it out.

Well, I wouldn't compare 'Masoom' with 'the blue umbrella' because in the latter the subject matter could very well be enjoyed by kids too.

I believe its been shot in Himachal Pradesh

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