Sunday, December 23, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

Rating : 9/10
Running Time : 165 minutes
Release Date : 21st Dec ‘07
Director : Aamir Khan ; Writer : Amole Gupta; Music : Shankar, Ehsaan & Loy
Starring : Aamir Khan, Darsheel Safary, Tisca Chopra, Vipin Sharma, Sachet Engineer

Have we ever thought about how easy it would be for a Pied Piper to come and steal all our kids away ? It wouldn’t take much, would it ? What do we really offer them, right now ? A life full of discipline and homework, an unyielding drive for progress, bound to timings, curriculum and the ever pervasive rat race ? Even when we do extra-curricular activities, we make it as bad as work - are we on time, are there special classes, how good are they, will they be successful ? When do we really let them just be kids, with their own special time ? Can't we just let them enjoy childhood, before they enter this big bad world of grown-ups and of adult rules ?

Such are the thoughts that flit through the mind as you watch this Aamir Khan masterpiece, borne out of a lovely story woven by Amole Gupta and his wife Deepa Bhatia through their work with children over the years. Its about a eight year old kid, Ishaan Awasthi, who finds it difficult to focus on letters or numbers, to catch or throw a ball, to generally do the things we expect children to do. He has failed in the third standard, which is a major source of misery to his middle class parents, whose other son, Yohan, is a topper. The school is now threatening to throw him out since everything points to his failing again. He is a misfit, preferring to live in his world of dreams, finding solace in the company of animals or anything else that catches his fancy. He loves to paint, is good with jig-saws etc but these things of course, will not help you pass the exams. Borne out of frustration, as a kind of punishment, and also with a intent to help him improve through greater discipline, he is put in a boarding school. The discipline, rules and punishments there though, break his spirit instead, making him retreat into his shell. He stops communicating, stops painting, stops talking to his parents. And then a temporary art teacher joins, Ram Shanker Nikumbh, who has his own theories on how to teach children.

I think the only flaw in the movie is that it’s a bit one-sided – it directs you a bit ruthlessly to its point of view and doesn’t totally give the perspective of other characters, like the mother, who just weeps silently in most of the second half.

However, I gave it a 9 rating because it beautifully reminds us what is it like to be a child again without hiding the thorny side of being young ! It brings back the innocence, the simple things that make us happy, the way we could play for an hour with just a little piece of wood, the way anything was possible in our imagination. It also points out how kids can be ruthless and unmerciful when they gang up, how 'survival of the fittest' applies aptly to school classrooms and playgrounds, how most schools and teachers of today have no time to hold the hands of children who are laggards and will not improve the grade point average of the school etc. Of how parents love their children but don’t have time in this stressful world to truly understand their needs. They just push them to fulfil their own unmet dreams and want them to achieve what they define as success – ie winners in the never-ending rat race… (as Ram Nikumbh says in the film, maybe they should breed horses instead ?)

It is intense, this movie (my wife’s one word description) and at quite a few moments tears can well up (mine) or even flow non-stop (my wife). However, it is enlivened by beautiful songs, lovely animation (for a change, including one inspired by Calvin and Hobbes 'Spaceman Spiff') and brilliant performances, which never allow it to become heavy, gloomy or sombre. The song 'Jame Raho' is a hilarious description of our current middle class lives, while the title song is extremely touching. Aamir Khan is great (as always), managing to get his point of view across very credibly, seamlessly fitting in to Ram Nikumbhs skin without a false step. Darsheel Safary is outstanding as Ishaan, making us fall in love with him and the private world he inhabits, empathizing with his predicaments, delighting in his naughtiness and drawing joy from his little successes. The mother is very well played by Tisca Chopra, caught between a square husband (well portrayed by Vinay Sharma) and a non-geometric son. Don’t miss the credits at the end as well, the montage of children alongside the credits make it worth waiting for.

This is outstanding heart-warming stuff, hats off to Aamir for once again taking on an off-beat topic and bringing it to life in his directorial debut. As he says in his note on the official site, to children and to childhood....

And if they dare send another movie to the Oscars, they’ll have to deal with me !


Unknown said...

thanks for the review...
looking forward to seeing this one

Unknown said...

that was me writing from wife's account... thank god i didn't say anything obscene this time

moksh juneja said...

why not a 10/10?

I loved the animation specially about the 3 x 9 =

Apurv Nagpal said...

I didnt give it a 10 only because i felt it was slightly manipulative..a one-sided portrayal..the extreme of this is of course a Michael Moore film and this is far from that, but i felt it could have shown us a bit more of what the parents thought processes were etc

moksh juneja said...

Even I thought there was something missing or more so incomplete or the story was short of something. He could have gone a little easy on the last drawing competition.

Anonymous said...

The trailors surely said it is worth watching it! Am glad the review is positive too(would comment on rating once i watch it ).. It is a very sensitive topic and no one will dare to give a negative marking after all its about kids the only angles on this mean , manipulative world!! Thanks now my turn to watch..

Surya, the Ayrus! said...

i watched taare zameen par today...a friend asked me to read your review...i must say if the movie silently whispere in my ears, "kuch karna hain" , your reveiw was as well a good kickass.. nice review, well balanced!

Anonymous said...

A few points:

1. The actor who played Ishaan's father was BAD. The fellow overacted and ruined all the scenes that had him.

2. Aamir overacted. The lecturing the parents scene was OTT.

3. They should not send this film to the Oscars. Indians are not very aware of dyslexia but it is not so in America. They will totally fail to get the point.