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What to know:
JAADOO (THE MAGIC) is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 7-18
39 minutes
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The superb cinematography, interesting storyline and nuanced characters make Jaadoo (The Magic) an entertaining watch. It's clear that the team behind this film knows exactly what they're doing. The beautiful shots of the Indian village and jungle tell so many amazing stories, the plot is vibrant yet easy to follow and the characters' personalities have so many facets! Two girls named Tvisha and Bhakti become friends as they are made to stand outside of class (as punishment) together. Bhakti shows Tvisha her secret hiding spot in the forest, and many adventures (and some magic) ensue. I love the character of Tvisha as well as the cinematography in this film!

The storyline is uniquely Indian, from strict teachers in a quaint village schoolhouse to floating boats on a magical lake. I love how coherent each scene is. The story flows from one shot to the next, with artistic flourishes in between. And I love how each major plot point of the story mounts up to the moral.

The crystal clear resolution and amazing, creative shots in Jaadoo (The Magic) really do add to the story. I especially love the shot where two paper boats are floating on the water together, side by side. Perfectly abiding by the rules of thirds, this shot has so many possible interpretations (friendship, wishes traveling together, etc.) and the stark contrast of white paper boats and the blue-hued water is beautiful.

The attire worn by the characters - school uniforms, saris, kurtas - all fit the time period and storyline of this film. The film is set in an Indian village and then, in a dense, lush jungle. I love the quaint setting and how the production team captured the surroundings so well. They complement the story well and give the entire film a sort of 'Panchtantra' (Indian fable) feel. The only music is in the last scene when the girls are throwing their paper airplanes into the air and off the cliff. This is perfect because the music serves to both wrap up and add an aura of hope to the movie. The rest of the movie is best without music because it allows for the ambient sound to shine.

There's a massive team behind Jaadoo (The Magic), but there are some people who really stand out in their roles. Shoorveer Tyagi, director, writer and producer of the film, shows his prowess in all three fields. The script feels conversational and like something that two young girls would actually say. The direction and production quality are both amazing as well. Archali Killekar and Chandni Valvi play Bhakti and Tvisha respectively and both excel in their roles. Tvisha's innocence and chirpiness perfectly fits the aloof Bhakti. RS Vikal puts on a superb performance as the old basket-weaver in the forest. His is probably the most 'underrated' role. The cinematography by Krishnna S. Banjan, as has been established, is amazing and the sound designers Ved Nair and Tarun Sharma balance the ambient track with the voices of the characters. Kudos to the whole team!

The message of this film is to dream sky-high, appreciate your talents and remember that friendship can come out of even the most mundane of circumstances. It does have some negative behavior such as when the schoolteacher hits and berates his students (including Tvisha and Bhakti) and the girls' parents are disrespectful and mean at points.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It has excellent cinematography, deep characters and a professional overall look. This could be considered special interest for an Indian or Asian festival. Reviewed by Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Rarely is one so lucky as to view a rich, culturally different film such as Jaadoo (The Magic). This short from India, spoken in Hindi, with English subtitles that read at a level suitable to children as they are wonderfully simple.

Before viewing this film I reviewed KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M's review and. I would have a hard time writing a better review than he has. So I'll leave the incredible production value notes to him. I have picked another area to comment on - that is, unpacking my own understanding of "intercultural norms" that are revealed in the production, with breathtaking cinematography from vistas to teardrops. In the first six minutes of the film, I was shocked, even appalled by the reveal of the strict, vicious and scowling fifth grade Indian professor who berates his students for minor infractions (by our US standards) such as losing your notebook. I was literally thrown back to my own childhood school punishments, and here, in a class of Indian village youngsters, with their immense beauty and innocence, are being punished for what I perceive to be abusive - i.e. slapping students on the face and verbally scolding them, which appear to be the norm is this village.

Upon viewing Jaadoo a second time, I felt as if I was being culturally biased and that corporal punishment, although existing in the recent past in US school culture, now is mostly gone. I thought, "what I am viewing?" Whether I agree with its validity or not, it is the story that is told, honestly, of how some children might live and learn in other cultures around the world. While I endured some emotional shock watching people slap children to punish them, I also saw the magic in creativity and how an old basket-maker nurtures children in knowing the satisfaction of doing what you love teaches us to know we are special. Finding our dreams is right behind the belief that they are available to us.

I am not discouraging parents from sharing this marvelous film with their tweens and teems, but I hope that people will think about what they want to teach their children about what is most important, and how they want them to learn. Kindness is such a great feeling, and builds self-esteem, as the old basket-maker shows the two young girls - magic! Thank you director, writer and producer Shoorveer Tyagi for making this film available to KIDS FIRST! Film Festival.

I give Jaadoo (The Magic) 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Nancy K., KIDS FIRST!

Tvisha and Bhakti study in a remote village school. Every day for some reason they end up being punished and are thrown out of their classrooms. While, Younger Tvisha is chirpy, brimming with energy; Older Bhakti is gloomy & shy. Despite their unlikeness they gradually discover friendship outside the classroom. Somewhere inside the forest, Bhakti has a secret little place. Soon, Tvisha too joins as both patiently wait for the magic to unfold.
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