Genre: Coming of Age
Screenplay: Martin Smith / Sunandan Walia / Farrukh Dhondy
(based on a book by Farrukh Dhondy)
Producer / Directors: Sunandan Walia & Yugesh Walia
Laced with much humour and tragedy, POONA COMPANY, the book, is a string of loosely connected short stories which combine to form an affectionate portrait of a small Indian neighbourhood in the early 1960s. It is the characters and their lives – colourful, individual, funny and often magical that drew us to this story.
Our film is about a loss of innocence; of confronting age old prejudices. Its backbone is the experiences of two teenagers, FARRUKH and CONFESSION, making the transition into the adult world. Their individual journeys through love, greed, rebellion and tragedy, are the kind that can be universally recognised.
Farrukh belongs to a typically middle-class, Parsee home. He is somewhat laid back; his future as an engineer more or less guaranteed. His friend, Confession, is complex by comparison. He has seen poverty and hardship and his future is dependent on the charity of the Church – unless he takes his future into his own hands through sheer intelligence and hard work. His experiences cause a dramatic change in Farrukh who joins him in his quest to pull small town Poona out of its parochial existence. Things come to a head when Confession falls in love with Zeenat, a girl from the other side of the tracks. Both he and Farrukh realise that changing the world isn’t as simple as they thought; that taking on the rich and powerful has unwished-for consequences.
The world of POONA COMPANY is one in which there is a heady mix of East and West. The characters are as comfortable with rock ‘n’ roll as they are with Hindi film music. When they are not changing the world they spend their time at the cafes of the ‘chowk’, the town square, much like the diner in American Graffiti.
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