Principal Photography Completed on “Kalpvriksh – The Wish Tree” Directed by Manika Sharma

Director Manika Sharma has completed principal photography on KALPVRIKSH THE WISHING TREE YOUR DREAMS ARE JUST A TOUCH AWAY, starring Shabana Azmi. The film was written by Manika Sharma. Ace Cinematographer Rajeev Jain is the Director of Photography.

KALPVRIKSH – THE WISH TREE is a magical, inspirational and an extremely entertaining story of five children in a hill-station who come together to save their ‘wish tree’ (KALPVRIKSH) from being cut by vested interests. The film is extremely lively, entertaining, endearing and engrossing so that the underlying message to protect trees and environment is seamlessly driven home…

Twelve year old Nikita is overweight and headstrong. When her overeating becomes an obsession, not only does her life at school and at home become seriously out of control but her dream of becoming a ‘rock star’ one day, seems next to impossible. Nikita’s life is mysteriously enjoined with four others –

Guriqbal Singh, Nikita’s classmate and sole heir to the presently crumbling business of “Nanak Paneer (cottage cheese) House”, has a stealing problem, which is about to take dangerous dimensions. In the face of financial insecurities which are more anticipated than real and an even more insecure father, who is gradually turning alcoholic, Guriqbal must ‘collect’ and ‘store away’ what he can to protect the well-being and future of his family. His treasure box lies buried deep in the forest behind the railway tracks.

Sean, a ‘dyslexic’, is an eleven year old boy. Sean’s constant struggle with reading and speech makes him the ‘butt’ of all jokes and relentless public humiliation at the hands of his superior classmates, within the unforgiving walls of his classroom. And to make matters worse, while at home, Sean must also live through the trauma of separating parents, who are on the verge of an official break-up. The only comforting source is ‘Pari’, Sean’s beloved pet, his lemon-yellow colored lovebird and perhaps one day, the gift of ‘free-speech’. Through Sean’s eyes the world lends itself to a strangely stunning visual possibility… and when he picks up the brush, the canvas leaves people amazed at his genius.

Ten-year old Fatima Khanam is obsessed with Bollywood, specially, Superstar ‘Shah Rukh Khan’. A ‘star’ in her own right, Fatima is preparing herself for her ‘star-destiny’, which will come to her someday soon. She goes through her day as though an imagined camera is filming her at all times, even while she is brushing her teeth! Fatima manages to skip school smoothly to watch films in the cinema hall, until the season of ‘parent-teacher meetings’ spoils it all and Fatima’s father, Khwaja Sheikh, is alarmed at her shocking performance in school tests and also her disappearing acts from school.

This season also spells doom for Nikita, Sean and Guriqbal, who are getting into deeper trouble and misfortune. In a world swinging between angry parents, punishments, disapproving neighbours, and a stressful school life, their world is fast crumbling and their dreams drifting away in conflict with their reality.

Last but not the least is Dhanua, a witty, street smart, eleven year old who works at the dhaba (local eatery), down in Paltan Bazaar. With his unshaken faith in muscular ‘Hanumaan ji’ (the Indian Monkey God and mythological superhero), he must fight the tests of time against his abusive and tough dhaba owner ‘Shankar dada’. Dhanua would love to go to school and make friends with other children, who seem to have a perfect life, but right now he must earn his meals from day to day and protect himself from being bullied and exploited by other older, stronger boys working at the dhaba, Jaikishen and Kaalia.

Life’s tough. Even so, a miracle awaits Dhanua and the messy lives of Nikita, Sean, Guriqbal and Fatima…

On the Annual Sports day at school, Nikita wins first prize in the back-to-back race. But when some of the children scoff at her and announce that she has only won by cheating, this is the breaking point for Nikita. The most hurtful day of her life is about to transform into the most magical day of Nikita’s life.

Nikita’s mysterious old friend (who lives in a green house in the forest) tells her the magical tale of ‘Kalpvriksh’ or ‘The Wishing Trees’ that have existed through thousands of years. “They are still around and the only unfortunate reason they have not been discovered in recent times is because no one believes in them anymore, the Wishing Trees are dying”, she tells Nikita.

In the moments that follow, Nikita instinctively runs to her secret place where she always sits when she is sad. She stands before an old twisted tree and speaks to it as if it’s listening. In the days that follow Nikita’s life begins to change drastically. She does not steal food from the kitchen in the nights and through a series of incidents, the children in school not only stop teasing her but look at her with newfound respect and admiration. The humiliation begins to give way to a feeling of self worth and pride.

Nikita has discovered her Wish Tree and she must share its magic with Sean, Guriqbal, Fatima and Dhanua. According to Nikita’s mystical old friend in the forest, the powers of the Wishing tree grow when more and more people believe in it. But the secret must be shared only with those that genuinely believe in it.

Sean’s speech is clearing up miraculously since his angry meeting with the Wishing Tree. At some point he must gather the confidence to express his love for Nikita.

Fatima is grounded by her father. One day when a newsflash on TV reports that Superstar Shah Rukh Khan is being flown to London for surgery, her fantasy about him begins to crumble. He is real, he can fall ill. At such a moment of crisis, she can only reach out to the Wishing Tree.

On the other hand, with sheer faith of the children, the Wishing tree is coming back to life after a thousand years of sleep. It is celebrating life. It is spurting into new leaves and also growing pretty white flowers.

The special thing about the tree is that it is making their wishes come true. It’s magic is working its way through the lives of these children, and their lives are changing, fast.

But even as the children spend more and more time with their newfound friend, some rumours of the tree being evil are brewing in the town. ‘Pannalal’, the sly contractor / wood-cutter is responsible for this.

The children love their Wishing Tree but the true test of friendship is yet to come.

The Wishing tree is going to be felled and the whole town has gathered to witness this. Five axe-men sharpen their axes and walk towards the tree. The people of the township stand staring dumbfounded, curious to see what is to come. And then something happens… something that no one has ever witnessed before. This will perhaps not be seen for another thousand years…

This is a triumphant story of five kids, with their complex problems, who despite being written off by the world around them, make an extraordinary difference by courageously following their instincts, fiercely guarding and actually saving their Wishing tree against all odds. Disability and difficulty become the stepping stone to become extraordinary.

They make National news and the world must now see them with a difference. The Wishing tree has regained all its powers and come back to life with a bang. Strangely, all the Wishing trees in the world are celebrating…. Superstar Shah Rukh Khan celebrates a timeless message with the children…

… And the KALPVRIKSH pleads… “I am just a wishing tree which grants what is asked for. Whereas all the trees of the world give their everything to life on earth without even being asked”. It thanks everyone for saving it from being cut, and implores them to ensure that not a tree is cut anywhere, in any part of the world. It also appeals to all kids to make sure that they all plant their own ‘wishing trees’ and see their wishes come true.

Somewhere in another corner of the world, a little African American girl is curiously running her hands through the bark of a very old twisted tree….could this be her Wishing Tree?

After all, science has its limitations… faith has none!!

Manika Sharma is a Graduate of the Vancouver Film School. After winning an award for her student film, “Crimes of the Art”, she came back to Mumbai in 2000 to start work on the feature film, “Asoka”. This was internationally acclaimed Santosh Sivan’s magnum opus period film based on the life and times of Emperor Asoka, one of the greatest legends in human history. As Chief Assistant director on ‘ASOKA’, Manika did the visualization for the film (the look and setting of 232 BC) along with conceptualization and art direction of the songs. She has written the English subtitles for the film. Manika has had an opportunity to travel worldwide with ‘ASOKA’ around the festival circuit (Venice, Florence, London, Singapore).

She has shot popular commercials for Pepsi (Men in Blue, World Cup) with the Indian cricket team in Leeds, England. Also Lays Potato chips with Saif Ali Khan (leading Bollywood star) and Mohd. Kaif (Cricketer) in South Africa.
Apart from writing and co-directing a short film for CFSI (Children’s Film Society of India) she has directed and produced music video’s for Sony BMG Music and United Nations (UNAIDS).

Her music video, ‘Tod do Deewaren’ became the first ever theme song on World AIDS Day to feature elaborately on National news across the country. It featured sixteen famous singers/ pop artists of the country including classical maestro’s such as Pandit Jasraj. The song in essence celebrated hope and togetherness, the spirit and triumph of people, especially children living with HIV and AIDS. Manika’s most recent work is a music album for Sony BMG, which has aired across UK. The music video, “Mitr pyare nu” was on chart hits in North America.

Rajeev Jain, Director of Photography, was highly appreciated for his camera work in Army, Badhaai Ho Badhaai, Carry on Pandu, Kadachit, Mirabai Not out and Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. He was also the Additional DOP / 2nd Unit DOP for such notable films as Rang De Basanti, Chalte Chalte, Gupt and Trimurti. He has also shot several ad-films and short films.

Description: KALPVRIKSH (THE WISHING TREE) is a magical, inspirational and an extremely entertaining Feature Film wherein five children in a hill-station come together to save their Kalpvriksh (Kalpavriksha, Kalpavriksh, Kalpvriksha) ‘wishing tree’ from being cut by vested interests. The film is extremely lively, entertaining and engrossing so that the underlying message to protect trees and environment is seamlessly driven home. Shabana Azmi plays a key role in the.
Authors Bio: Raajaysh Chetwal, Rhombus Films. Background in Banking & Finance. Producer of several television programmes on various channels. Produced TV commercials and corporate films for Indian and International clients.

Tags: Raajaysh Chetwal, Rhombus Films, Kalpvriksh the Wish Tree, Manika Sharma, Kalpavriksh, Kalpavriksha, Kalpvriksha, Rajeev Jain DOP, Rajiv Jain Cinematographer