A deeply resonating look at an uneducated, poor street labourer in India searching for the missing son he essentially sold into child labour, Mehta’s film offers a lot of questions but thankfully never tries to make sense out of a situation that’s unanswerable from the start.
Mahendra (Rajesh Tailang, who also translated the screenplay from its original English to Hindi) provides for his wife and daughter as a chain-wallah (zipper fixer), but needing to make ends meet he ships his titular son to work in a factory vouched for by his brother in law. When Siddharth never returns home for Diwali as promised, Mahendra fears the worst and is forced to work even harder just to go on his own wild goose chase in a country where such matters overwhelm and frustrate the police daily.
It’s one of the rare occasions where seeing an ending coming in advance actually makes the material even more gutting to watch. Mehta’s style is gritty and realistic and Tailiang’s performance of a proud man trying to keep his life in order dazzles. It’s not exploitative, but Mahendra’s plight gets so tough to watch on an emotional level that any conclusion would be cathartic after a while. That’s meant as the highest compliment possible.