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Underdog of the Week: ‘Siddharth’

Underdog of the Week: 'Siddharth'

Nobody sees everything, but Criticwire is here to point out films that might get lost otherwise. Underdog of the Week takes a film that a only few critics have seen and shines some light on it.

Dir: Richie Mehta
Criticwire Average: B+

Films about child abduction can skirt dangerously close to the line of exploitation (or, in the case of last year’s “Prisoners,” cross well over that line). Richie Mehta’s “Siddharth” avoids that territory by staying away from lurid territory and easy answers. Set in Dehli, it concerns the story of Mahrendra (Rajesh Tailang), a chain-wallah whose 12-year-old son, Siddharth, goes missing shortly before he’s to come home from his (illegal) job. As he searches for any sign of his son, he finds that the people who might be able to help are no longer shocked by child disappearances, and he learns what allowed it to happen.

Only a few critics on the Criticwire Network have seen “Siddharth,” but the handful that have are enthusiastic. Reviews from outside of Criticwire Network in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Village Voice are largely complimentary, as well, suggesting that this 2013 Toronto International Film Festival title could be ripe for discovery.

Kirk Honeycutt, Honeycutt’s Hollywood

is about grinding poverty and overwhelming naivety. Its protagonist is a
passive, uncomprehending individual who reminds audiences that despite
the “economic miracle” of contemporary India, millions of people live in
impossible conditions in that country, whether urban or rural, and have
no real way out of their desperate plight. Read more.

Prairie Miller, Long Island Press

A disturbing and devastating descent into Third world poverty, exploitation and desperation, more often than not mere backdrop to the social insularity of most other movies. Yet weighing in provocative ways, struggle and exploitation as inevitably bound.

Odie Henderson, RogerEbert.com

sense of hopelessness invades every frame of “Siddharth,” yet its story
is not emotionally manipulative. Those looking for the typical
children-in-peril style mystery, one that ends with a standard
resolution, will be dissatisfied. It is clear early on that Siddharth’s
disappearance will be used in service to a much bigger issue, and that
we may never find out his whereabouts. Read more.

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