Sunday at midnight, at the 10th Olympia International Film Festival For Children, Santosh Sivan's much-acclaimed Hindi film Tahaan, about the relationship between a little boy and his pet donkey, walked away with several major awards including the topmost awards for Best Feature Film, the CIFEJ (Centre International du Film pour Les Enfant Et La Jeunesse) award and the UNICEF award for Best film.
"That covers the entire major awards in the films category," said an excited Sivan, minutes after the Olympia awards concluded in Greece.
Sadly, little Purav Bhandare, who plays the main part in Tahaan, couldn't be in Greece for the awards because of school and also the Festival's apparent inability to fund Purav's flight to the Festival.
"What makes these awards special is the fact that every category has a separate set of jury members, so it was basically three different set of jury members giving the three awards to Tahaan. That felt good," says Santosh Sivan who has a lifelong affinity to children and children's films beginning with Halo and Asoka (remember the little Sooraj Balajee stealing scenes from Shahrukh and Kareena?) and the film on AIDS Prarambha. All these had sterling performances by child actors.
Laughs Santosh, "I maybe making films with children in the lead, but I'm in a minority. At these international film festivals especially Olympia which is devoted to children's cinema, they have an impression that a lot of children's films are being made in India."
Santosh was excited about meeting many prospective producers at Olympia and has even locked in for a project with a Canadian production house.
Tahaan gets a big hand-up because of the triumph at Olympia.
"Tahaan has already been screened and appreciated at the London, Rome, Pusan and now the Olympia film festivals," says Santosh excitedly.
Sad, it hardly ran in the country of its origin.