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‘Sniff’ film review: A boy has a nose for crime and a movie none for pacing

Amole Gupte’s sluggishly paced movie is about an eight-year-old boy whose olfactory sense helps him solve crimes.

Amole Gupte’s latest children’s movie after Stanley Ka Dabba (2011) and Hawa Hawaai (2014) is his weakest. Sniff follows eight-year-old Sunny (Khushmeet Gill), who cannot smell. The lack of olfactory abilities immensely bothers Sunny’s pickle manufacturing family and causes some gentle bullying at school, but doesn’t fully account for Sunny’s permanently melancholic air and pensive look.

A freak accident at school brings back Sunny’s sense of smell and pushes the boy, who has displayed no investigative flair thus far, to slip into Sherlock Holmes mould. Sunny now has a canine-like ability to sniff out smells that are not discernible to mortals, and a series of car robberies gives him the opportunity for his heroics.

As is nearly always the case in children’s films, most of the adults are portrayed as fools, especially clownish senior police officer Bashvati (Sushmita Mukherjee). None of the children makes an impression either, least of all Sunny. Sluggishly paced and sketchily written, the movie barely has enough going on to merit 90 minutes of running time. The wonderment of childhood, which Gupte portrayed beautifully in Stanley Ka Dabba, is missing, and unlike Sunny’s sense of smell, it never makes its appearance.

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