It is difficult for a filmmaker to make a movie for children in India to compete with the technically superior products from Hollywood, but Amole Gupte has been making unusual little films like 'Stanley Ka Daaba' and 'Hawa Hawaai'. Somehow the intention to please the target audience and the relentless good cheer of his movies seems to work.
What he lacks in budget, he makes up with imaginative subjects. His latest, 'Sniff', is about a little boy (Khushmeet Gill) who is born without a sense of smell, which, for a family that manufactures pickles is worse than blindness, as his grandmother says (the film opens with mouthwatering shots of a pickle being made).
In a sweet scene, his friend Adil teaches him expressions that go with various good smells; the reaction to bad smells he gets when he goes to class after stepping on dog poo.
Then, when the best doctors have given up on Sunny's nose, an accident involving chemicals in a dereluct lab, gets him his sense of smell back and so strong it is now that he can smell things two kilometres away. This power gives him unique crime fighting abilities, since he can literally sniff out crime.
It so happens that there have been car thefts in the vicinity and the colony kids decide they have to solve the crime even though the fierce ACP Bhaswati (Sushmita Mukherjee) lives there. Her relationship with her husband (Putul Guha), mocked by the neighbours for being jobless, is delightful.
Gupte did workshops with school kids so the children are utterly natural; Sunny's friend Adil is a charmer. But more than that he has worked with real people from a suburban housing society and they all seem to be enjoying the experience.
Sunny, with his extra sensitive nose will return, it says in the end, making the Sikh kid our first kiddie superhero.