Film: “Shortcut Safari”; Director: Amitabha Singh; Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Manmeet Singh, Sharvil Patel, Aashi Rawal, Mann Patel, Ugam Khetani, Stuti Dwivedi, Deah Tandon, Hardil Kanaba; Rating: *
Publicised as a children’s film packed with fun-filled adventure, writer-director Amitabha Singh’s “Shortcut Safari” is a far cry from the same. In fact it is a parent’s nightmare of an excursion gone awry.
It is the tale of seven unmonitored children travelling back home from a nature trip who urge their irresponsible driver to speed up and take an untrodden path through the jungle, which eventually leads to an accident.
After investigating the damage to the vehicle, the driver ventures alone into the forest to seek help, but not before telling the children that he will be back in fifteen minutes and that the children should stay in the vehicle.
As time passes and with no sign of the driver, how the restless children are forced to fend for themselves in the forest forms the crux of the tale.
The plot is hackneyed. The gags and dialogues too are cliched, worn-out and unexciting.
With a poorly written script and an equally poor execution, the resultant output of the performance seems forced and theatrically clumsy which does not touch an emotional chord. This notwithstanding, the children are talented, in their own special way and are charming and endearing.
The reactions of the parents are perfunctory and staid. Jimmy Shergill with a comic cape, in a minuscule role, is wasted.
On the technical front, with moderate production values, the film manages to exude a fairly aesthetic look. Mrinal Desai’s cinematography is fairly decent. The computer-generated images of the wild animals are tolerable and far from the fine animated films that today’s audience are used to. The visual impact is lost due to the various special effects, making the film look gimmicky.
The background score in a few scenes creates an impact, barring which, the music, is average. The songs, “Zor laga de, zor laga de” and “Sapno se bara piggy bank” fit comfortably into the narration. But unfortunately, the picturisation of these numbers are sub-standard. The sound mixed by the Oscar winning Resul Pookuty, too cannot salvage this film,
On a separate note, one of the first few frames of this film, suggest that the film is dedicated to teachers. Honestly, the film does not portray the teachers in a good light. Don’t know if the director intended this for effect or was simply being sarcastic as the irresponsible, flighty teacher, left the children in the care of the driver.
Overall, “Shortcut Safari” is a shoddily presented escapade which is neither engrossing nor appealing.