At first, Karishma Dube’s Bittu feels like a condemnation of an abandoned child, but it transforms into something else entirely.
In the mountains, Bittu studies at a remote school with her friend, Chand. The film opens with the girls singing Bollywood songs and reciting poems to men for money, and Bittu has an unpredictable spirit. With her unkempt hair and her unwashed face, she is at the start of bucking authority with no real guidance other than her teacher and her principal. Even though she’s very young, Bittu feels out of place in her studies as others excel.
After she gets in trouble with the principal, Bittu is left to her own devices. She wanders around and spends time with the woman who is taking care of the food at the school, but an incident at the end of the film will shift your perception of what is to become of this young girl.
I wasn’t sure where Dube’s film was going as we followed her young lead. Were we witnessing a young girl’s struggle to fit in or was she making a statement about how Bittu isn’t given much of a chance? Whatever direction Dube was leading us, it’s captivating because of her precocious, crafty Bittu. She casts a watchful eye over Rani Kumari in her first role. I won’t give too much away, but the film is based on a real life incident, and Dube based the school on her own experience growing up.
Bittu will stay in your thoughts much after you leave it–both the film and the character.