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Sniff!!! review: Warm, but not the most fragrant story of an unlikely hero

Release Date: 25 Aug 2017 / 01hr 30min

Cinestaan Rating

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Suparna Thombare

Sniff!!! is a rare children's film to come out of Hindi cinema. But it's not as entertaining as Amole Gupte's earlier Stanley Ka Dabba (2011).

Set in a Mumbai housing society, Sniff!!! is a sweet tale of a schoolboy, an underdog, who turns out to be an unlikely superhero.

Sunny Gill (Khushmeet Gill), whose family is into the pickle business, has blocked olfactory nerves leading to a complete lack of sense of smell. His grandmother (Surekha Sikri) is especially unhappy as he cannot smell her achar (pickle) and its ingredients.

Sunny feels inadequate and upset about his disability, until, one day, miraculously, he gets back his sense of smell. Only, he can now smell things up to 2 km away and even guess what his classmates ate the day before! 

Sunny uses his overdeveloped olfactory senses to solve the mystery of increased car thefts in his area.

Amole Gupte creates a heartwarming world — one that reminds you of RK Narayan's Malgudi Days. Gupte sets the story in the backdrop of the diverse community of Sikhs, Bengalis, Tamils, Maharashtrian and others living in harmony, despite minor squabbles, in Dadar, in central Mumbai. A subtler version of Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma, perhaps.

Disappointingly, there is tons of stereotyping going on here — the bossy Bengali wife and an opportunistic Gujarati neighbour, for example. Thus, Gupte is unable to harness the power these characters could have offered in the screenplay, which ends up feeling rather dull.

The director brings out some natural and raw performances from all the child actors, including Sunny's three close friends. Khushmeet Gill as Sunny does a special job as he puts forth a sincere performance.

Sushmita Mukherjee as a dominating wife and police officer is good and so is veteran actress Sikri as the superhero boy's grandmother.

It is always heartening to see some magic and extraordinariness woven into the harsh reality of an ordinary world. Gupte has made a heartwarming children's film, but he does not involve the audience enough for them to root for the young hero. There are not enough laugh-out-loud or aww moments either. And the film, though only one and a half hours long, seems to move at a lethargic pace.

The most unfortunate part is that Sunny Gill's superpower is not used to its potential. Sniff!!! is a sweet story, and that rare children's film to come out of Hindi cinema. But it's not as heartwarming and entertaining as Gupte's earlier children's film, Stanley Ka Dabba (2011).