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‘The Wishing Tree’: Good intention bad execution

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Overall, even Mr Bachchan, who lends his baritone voice can't help the film in raising its stature and content.

Targeted for children and designed as a fantasy film with textures of folk legend and striking visual allegory, “The Wishing Tree” is all about nature and grace. It also packs in motivational and inspirational messages and life’s lessons.

Set in a fictional place called Haridham, the film is about a 6,000 year old tree that stands as a dormant spectator to human atrocities. An exceptionally overweight Nikita (Hashpreet Kaur), when depressed, escapes into the jungle and meets a mystic woman who informs her that the dying tree where she resides is actually the Wishing Tree. She tells her, “Jo sacche dil se mange to usse Kalpvriksh zaroor deta hai” (Make a wish with a sincere heart and the Wishing Tree will make your wish come true).

Charged with this knowledge and after experiencing the same, Nikita confides in her friends; Sean (Mark Shaw), a slow learner; Fatima (Shivani Joshi), a Shah Rukh Khan fan; Dhanua (Aabhas Yadav), a boy working in a tea stall and Guriqbal (Aditya Manghani), a boy who steals because his father’s business is not doing well.

And as the young kids connect with the tree, the dying tree blossoms back to life. But then there are people with vested interests, who want to chop The Wishing Tree. How the five friends unite to protect the tree forms the crux of the narrative.

The performances of the kids are sincere but perfunctory. They are supported by Saurabh Shukla as the dhaba owner, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal as their English teacher, Vineet Sharma as the corrupt cop, Shernaz Patel as Sean’s mother, Navneet Nishan and Rajit Kapur as Fatima’s parents, Raj Zutshi and Jaya Bhattacharya as Nikita’s parents, Vrajesh Hirjee as Panna Lal, the hunchbacked tree-cutter, and Makarand Deshpande as Sadho, the wheeler-dealer of stolen goods.

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Shabana Azmi as the mystic woman, is an extension and glamorous representation of the “Makdee” avatar, and is as vague as her character.

While the premise and its intention is noble, the execution of the film is totally warped. The director has gone full-throttle displaying her technical brilliance in effects and computer generated images but marring the narrative in the bargain. The characters are paper thin and flat, especially Shabana’s character. She is vague and dull-witted.

Overall, even Mr Bachchan, who lends his baritone voice can’t help the film in raising its stature and content.

Film: “The Wishing Tree”
Director: Manika Sharma
Cast: Shabana Azmi, Jayati Bhatia, Jaya Bhattacharya, Makrand Deshpande, Hashpreet Kaur, Shivani Joshi, Aditya Manghani, Varsha Agnihotri
Rating: *1/2

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Overall, even Mr Bachchan, who lends his baritone voice can't help the film in raising its stature and content.'The Wishing Tree': Good intention bad execution