Taare Zameen Par
Taare Zameen Par
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Thursday 20 December 2007
Taare Zameen Par
Aamir Khan, Tanay Chheda, Darsheel Safary, Tisca Chopra
Here you have a breezy, entertaining and touching tale about eight-year-old Ishaan Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) and his miserable life.
The other kids bully him, while the insensitive bus conductor calls him yeda. His parents (Tisca Chopra, Vipin Sharma), while concerned, are short on patience, and lose their cool ever so often.
All this because he can?t read and write the way kids his age normally do, and is accused of being lazy, naughty and irreverent by a world that knows no better. More than alphabets and numbers, this gutsy little fellow is fascinated by everyday mundane things like a man throatily gulping down a bottle of water, or a stray pup yawning.
No one understands this budding painter?s condition, that he is suffering from dyslexia. But then, how many of us really know of dyslexia in-depth? This is a condition, we are informed in the film, that affects not just our tiny protagonist, but also had in its grip Albert Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, and closer home, Abhishek Bachchan.
A load is lifted off Ishaan?s chest on knowing that such greats went through the same suffocating grief that he now finds impossible to bear. This golden piece of information, Ishaan?s bridge of hope, comes from the new art teacher in school.
Unconventional, challenging rules, and spike-haired, Ram Shankar Nikumbh takes Ishaan under his wing, and recognises the potential the frightened boy holds and hides.
Films made on the teacher/mentor-student relationship are not new (Black, Sur, Mona Lisa Smile, Freedom Writers). They follow a set road wherein the teacher rescues the underdog kiddo, and a lifelong bond is formed.
TZP also follows a similar route, but you?re absolutely willing to forgive that. Perhaps because of the simplicity and frankness of the storytelling, completely devoid of distracting technical frills. The film does well on all counts, including cinematography, sound and editing, but it doesn?t try to impress the viewer. And that?s really a proof of the confidence of Aamir Khan as director.
Also note-worthy is the pace, which he?s kept languorous, and it works. Khan uses animation several times in the film, and it?s always a playful delight, never overdone. In fact the simplicity reminds one of Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf?s films, especially Children of God.
Music (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) is omnipresent almost throughout the film, which gets a bit grating. The songs that leave a mark are the tile track and another fun number called Bheja Kum.
The only grouse is that many topics are just skimmed over, while one was looking forward to the film thrashing them out (details on Ishaan?s dad, Ram Shankar?s childhood memories, the pressing truth of parents burdening kids with their own ambitions etc). Plus everything, after a point happens too smoothly; the opposers become supporters, and life is sunshine. Probably not the truth for many special children, for whom the mountain of struggle is not that easily overcome.
Darsheel Safary is a real discovery. It?s mind-boggling how he manages to perform this intricate role with such effortless command. Aamir Khan is wonderful as always, and is obviously delighted to sink his teeth into such a different role, while also managing the creative reins. Tisca Chopra is fabulous, while Vipin Sharma?s a bit over-the-top.
If you have kids, or nephews and nieces, or are just nuts about children anyway, you?ll hear the heartbeat of this film that much more clearly... Once you watch the film, and that you should do, don?t be in a hurry to leave; save a few minutes for the touching real-life footage of kids in the end as the credits roll. TZP is not just a tribute to this special boy?s character, but to all children ? the stars that Khan hopes will not get lost between us cynical adults.
Verdict: 3-and-a-half stars out of 5