Review: ‘The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical’

Docu focuses on the collaboration of the Bombay Chamber Orchestra and several children from the slums.

Craftily balancing inspirational uplift with clear-eyed pragmatism, filmmaker Sarah McCarthy is admirably restrained when it comes to heart-tugging, and sharply observant in noting the revealing details, in”The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical.” Her tidy, briskly paced documentary focuses on the collaboration of the Bombay Chamber Orchestra and several children from the slums of Mumbai for a choral performance of the Rogers and Hammerstein chestnut “The Sound of Music.” Pic could benefit from any residual feeling of goodwill toward “Slumdog Millionaire,” though its relative brevity makes it best suited for fest, cable and pubcast venues.

A precocious 11-year-old identified only as Ashish emerges early as the doc’s star — and not just because he’s chosen by Johannis Steinwender, the orchestra’s Austrian-born conductor, for an end-of-show solo. Ashish’s youthful enthusiasm sets him aglow as he describes possible benefits — including opportunities to aid his struggling family — if he shines in the spotlight. But McCarthy doesn’t shy away from showing how other children in the production bitterly resent the attention Ashish gets. And the final scenes suggest his dreams may remain unfulfilled. Tech values, including Liam Iandoli’s sharp HD lensing, are impressive.

The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical

U.K.-India

Production

A Double Bounce Films production in association with Ronachan Films and VPRO. (International sales: Goldcrest Films, London.) Produced by Joe Walters. Executive producers, Helen Littleboy, Dominic Ianno, Jim Davey, Matt Williams. Directed by Sarah McCarthy.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Liam Iandoli; editor, John Mister; online editor, Nick Anderson; music, Jody K. Jenkins; songs, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II. Reviewed on DVD, Toronto, Sept. 15, 2010. (In Toronto Film Festival -- Real to Reel.) Running time: 64 MIN.

With

Ashish, Johannis Steinwender, Jini Dinshaw, Khushroo Santook, Kimberly Pinto. (English, Hindi dialogue)

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