New Delhi, Jan 18, 2021: Paanchika is a game of five pebbles played by children. It also seems like an appropriate title for a tale where friendship may go for a toss when children are bound to listen to what society orders them to do. Even today, India judges with a lens of caste and religion. ‘Paanchika’ (Five Pebbles) portrays how friendship survives all these social norms, says Film Director Ankit Kothari. His film has been the Opening Film for the Indian Panorama Non-Feature section at the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) today.

The young Director adapted a short story from 1950s by reknowned Marathi writer Vyankatesh Madgulkar into his own language and landscape, that is, Gujarat and the Rann of Kutch. “I am telling a story of friendship in my world in an interesting way”, says Kothari. I had so much to say and using symbols and metaphors like salt pyramids was something that excited me”, he said in course of a press conference today. Kothari worked with child-actors in Paanchika. Speaking of this experience, he says, “there are never incapable children, there are only incapable directors”. In the sets, while he used to give instructions to the child actors and was strict with them, the producer Shreya Kapadia used to provide them chocolates and refreshments after a good shot to inspire them.

Tushar Hiranandani, Director of ‘Saandh Ki Aankh’ said, this biopic is not only about women-empowerment, but it narrates an inspiring tale of what one can achieve even at the age of sixty years when most people give up trying. The Producer Reliance Big Entertainment Pvt Ltd.’s Group CEO Shibhashish Sarkar said, “Sometimes there are certain stories that really push you. These stories need to be backed since they celebrate human spirit and human values”. The impediments shown in the film are of society and not the characters, he added. Further, the Director says that he wanted to tell this story on a socially significant issue in a fun-way, rather than sounding preachy. That has a better impact, he said. Hiranandani further says, the genre of biopics inspires him the most. In India there are many hidden stories that need to be told, he said. The real-life characters of the film, Chandro and Prakashi were not even known in their town Meerut. “When I made this movie, I hoped that they will be noticed”, he added. The Director will focus on telling inspiring tales of such unknown people even in the future, he stated. In the context of shooting a film in India, Hiranandini says, the locals were very helpful and cooperative and shooting in Meerut has been a wonderful experience. About having reputed actors and big stars to make commercial successes, Hiranandani opines, Indian films have shown many talented actors of late and such talented, hard-working actors are needed for biopics.

Paanchika synopsis: Seven-year-old Miri sets off to deliver lunch across a desert of salt pyramids. She’s followed by Suba, an outcast, who keeps a distance from her because they are not supposed to play together. What follows is a tale of friendship where the bounds of society unravel one pebble at a time.

Saand Ki Aankh synopsis: :Dr. Yashpal, a national-level player and coach in sharp shooting, opens a 10-meter shooting range in Johari village in Bagpat, Uttar Pradesh. It had everything but students. Village head Rattan Singh Tomar gave permission only to the sons of the family to learn shooting.  had two younger brothers – Bhanwar Singh, Chandro’s husband, and Jai Singh, Prakashi’s husband. Among the three brothers, they had 40 children. Both the grannies Chandro and Prakashi picked up the shooting gun to encourage their daughters. What unfolded was nothing short of miraculous. They won 352 medals each as sharp shooters.