Indian filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda's Halkaa, which had its world premiere at the 21st Festival International du Film Pour Enfants de Montréal Film (FIFEM), has bagged the Grand Prix de Montreal at the gala. "Halkaa" was selected among seven international children's films from different countries in the official competition of the festival.
"It's a great honour that 'Halkaa' won the top award at its world premiere screening. The film has already been invited to six international film festivals," Panda said in a statement.
The film is a take on a slum child's heroism, aspirations, and dreams. The child protagonist, Pichku (Tathastu) fights to overcome the basic problems that he faces every day like defecating in the open, among others. It is his dream to make a toilet of his own where he can enjoy his privacy and do the deed in peace.
"India is one of the largest youth populated countries, but we hardly produce children's cinema which is an irony," said Panda.
He said "Halkaa" can be called a sequel to his National Award-winning film "I am Kalam".
"I am sure the audience will love this one as well. This is a family entertainer with amazing music from Shankar Ehsaan Loy," Panda said.
The movie features Ranvir Shorey and Paoli Dam in key roles.
FIFEM festival director Jo-Anne Blouin said "Halkaa" touched the jury.
"The jury was unanimously touched and enchanted with 'Halkaa' and gave the top award to the film for the audacity of its subject matter, the opportunity for children to discover the daily lives of children in such a different society and for the 'joie de vivre' that overcomes adversity no matter what."
(With IANS Inputs)