A boy and a tiger become friends. This is a relationship that should surprise us, amaze us or perhaps frighten us. In any case, its exceptional character should arouse some emotion.
However, in The Tiger and the Child, this complicity between a human and a wild animal is presented as almost banal. That young Balmani is accompanied by a feline on his journey to the Himalayan mountains provokes very little reaction from the many people the duo meets on his way. In the Nepalese capital, passers-by are not surprised to see a teenager walking a big cat on a leash. The orphan’s companion could have been a dog, the reactions would have been the same.
We are also looking for emotions in Balmani, interpreted by Sunny Pawar (Lion). The main character displays a rather neutral face throughout his adventure. He returns to his old home and finds memories of his mother? He seems more indifferent than sad. Meeting old friends? They all seem happier than him to be together.
One of the moments where you see the teenager’s emotions the most shine through? No, it’s not when he comes face to face with the poacher who is chasing him (there, fear would have been in order).
He is rather panicked during a swim with a friend when he realizes that the tiger is not with him. However, it is precisely Balmani who, a few scenes earlier, left the animal of his own free will at the camp of a nomadic tribe that welcomed them. In short, it is difficult to understand this sudden fear. We would have liked this surplus of emotion to be put to better use.
Moreover, note that some elements of the scenario are rather weak. Why is an orphanage employee helping the poacher? To be able to buy a motorcycle… Here is a good reason to put the life of a young person in danger.
However, the feature film has a great strength: that of introducing children and their parents to absolutely magnificent landscapes. Shot with a reduced technical team in the Himalayan mountains, the film highlights the beauty of this corner of the planet. The images of tigers are also fascinating. It is here that we see all the experience of the Italian director Brando Quilici who, in the past, has made documentaries for National Geographic.
If in this film the human failed to amaze us, nature did it hands down.