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What to know: Filled with appealing music, visual and humor about protecting the environment.
CHANDAN VAN is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 5-13
120 minutes
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CHANDAN VAN cover image
I highly recommend this for the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival because children will learn a lot while enjoying the appealing visuals, sweet music and humor.

Directed by Santosh Shetty Kateel, this film offers an innocent and light-hearted look at India where the important topic of environmental preservation is expressed. The storyline is creative. The humor is notable. Most appealing is how the message is conveyed. What is somewhat unappealing is that, at times, there is way too much going on. I believe children will enjoy this, because there is humor, music and dance that are sweet, educational and catchy. The main characters are children so other a youth audience will be able to connect to the storyline. Even the antagonists are appealing as they are a little goofy which offsets their villainous vibe.

The story flows well and the style is quite creative. The story line is comprehendible, although sometimes there are way too many sub-plots going on. However, all the sub-plots come together at the end in a way that makes sense. The subject of environmental preservation is handled well and counterarguments are also addressed. The material is entirely suitable for a youth an family audience. The vocabulary is age appropriate and the story is easy to follow. Although there are a couple of intense scenes, they are lightened by the villain's side kicks who reminded me of the Three Stooges.

The film begins with the narrator, Mother Nature, introducing the topic of environment awareness while animated storybook pages are being flipped on screen, illustrating the narrator's story. This idea of using the storybook adds a childish sensibility and sets the creative tone. The production quality is well done, with clear sound, high screen quality and sublime landscape shots. The story takes place in a village near a vast sandalwood forest, the Chandan Van. One of the songs shot in the forest displays the beautiful aspects of nature. It made me fall in love with nature and want to protect it. The shots are clear, beautiful and interspersed throughout the film. Songs compliment what is happening and are appropriately spaced throughout the film. They brought a smile to my face. In one song, the protagonist and her grandfather explore and address the splendor of India. The costumes they wear when singing this song reflect a culture I have never seen before, connecting to the playfulness of the song.

The only part where the production quality lacks are in some of the special effects. In some scenes, the animated wildlife is not great quality. In the songs and shots of the scenery, the cinematography stands out and captures nature's qualities. However, in some of the chase scenes, when the characters are falling down, the shots are choppy. For example, when the children are biking and fall, it is unclear what happens that makes them fall. However, throughout the film, the production quality generally meets high standards.

The acting ranges from effortless to forced. Throughout the film, the main characters succeed in maintaining the childish heart of the film. The villain maintains an intimidating aura, yet his quirks make him somewhat humorous. However, some of the non-essential characters lack emotion. Since they do not have major roles, the main characters' acting steals the show.

The songs are truly a highlight of the film and they are cleverly interspersed throughout. I found myself smiling during every song because of the innovative lyrics that subtly have underlying teachings as well as fun-filled humor . The message of the film is about protecting Mother Nature and learn to live happily with what we have.

I definitely recommend this film for the KIDS FIRST! Film Festivals because the moral of the story is important in today's environment, the humor is innocent and it is filled with emotion. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 13.

Reviewed by Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

see youth comments
'Sanjana' the city girl from a wealthy family, during her mid-term holidays visits her Grandfather's house at the Western Ghats in Karnataka. Born nature lover, gets adjusted to the village set up, spends time in going around the forest, making friends with village children, one fine day going around the forests finds the tree crying and requesting to save the last plant of sandalwood tree, to which Sanjana promises of keeping and preserving it for future. "Edavattu Enkappa" the leader and the smuggler, who thinks of modernization takes place only through cutting down the trees. And helps Krishna Hedge, the business man, who wanted large amount of paper for their huge project with the Chinese Company. 'Kisha' the friend of Sanjana from America , who keep connecting through video calls, comes to know the whereabouts of the village and the talking plant, to which she promises of her help through her mother, who is a scientist. Eliza Kisha's mother helps her daughter, through the assistance of Research team, who joins them to come to India and to bring an awareness of the forests destruction that has already taken place.
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