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.