Saturday, December 22, 2007

Taare Zameen Par: Return to Innocence

Genre: Drama
Director: Aamir Khan
Cast: Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan, Tisca Chopra
Storyline: A dyslexic child gets a little direction from a caring Art teacher to tackle his difficulty.
Bottomline: Five stars for Taare, simply out of this world!

It doesn’t take more than the first 20 minutes of the film to establish that Aamir Khan has arrived as one of the finest filmmakers in mainstream Hindi cinema today.

At a fundamental level, there are at least three possible paths he could’ve chosen from right at the start.

1. This is a film he could’ve made for the Oscars. But he didn’t. Because making a films for awards and acclaim at the international level means keeping the focus on cinema than the issue itself. Clearly, Aamir made this because he believed it was a story that had to be told to as many people as possible.

2. This is a film he could’ve milked exploitatively for melodrama pretty much like Bhansali did with Black. But he didn’t. Because a dash of melodrama would create a larger-than-life disconnect with the issue rooted in the reality of a competitive, contemporary world. After all, Aamir is the guy who once asked Ashutosh how would his character Bhuvan (from Lagaan) have time or inclination to be clean-shaven in times of drought.

3. This is a film he could’ve made as an insightful social awareness documentary on dyslexia just like how Revathy made a touching Phir Milenge on AIDS awareness. But he didn’t. Maybe because when people go to watch an Aamir Khan film, they expect mischief, light-hearted fun, singing and dancing.

Aamir Khan’s filmmaking is calculatedly flawed because it is all-heart. While it is world-class in terms of sensibility, craft and performances (almost), it does feel the need to reach out, please and educate a mass. While it is sensitively nuanced and subtle (again, almost), it still feels the need to moist your eyes just a little to drill home its emotional depth and remind you of the power of cinema. And though painstakingly researched, it feels the need to simplify and entertain.

Very few filmmakers have had the conviction to make a film that balances aesthetics and art, social relevance and entertainment to bring about a change in the way we as a nation raise children in an extremely competitive standardised world. This is as close as any filmmaker in India has come to achieving perfect harmony between what a creator wants as someone who loves cinema, what people as an audience want from cinema and what the system needs from cinema. Imagine a three-circle Venn Diagram with the common subset area amounting to nearly 90 per cent of total area of the circles.

Ishaan (Darsheel) is the life of the film and we see the world through his eyes as we share his dreams, laugh at the mischief, feel the ache (try holding back your tears during the song his parents leave him at the boarding school) and snap out of it the very next moment, distracted like a child, thanks to Aamir’s flair for changing mood. The first half of the film is an emotional roller-coaster of a time-machine that instantly refreshes memories and takes you back to the days you cried in school. The pangs of home-work and the bliss of innocence.

Dyslexia apart, Ishaan has been part of our past… childhood has never seemed more real on screen, full credit to the filmmaker Aamir Khan and writer-creative director Amole Gupte. Especially, for showing us how differently Ishaan sees the world as he bunks school one day after not doing home-work: He does not see uniforms, he sees individuals making their lives out of their own hands, painting their future… that drop of paint falling on his cheek, accompanied to Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is a touch of genius.

Movies are where reality meets fantasy. So at the halfway point, enters radical Arts Teacher Ramshankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) to the rescue of our little hero, with the fairytale song and dance. Yes, he is too much of an angel when he goes out of his way to discuss the issue with the parents, who are representative of the average Indian middle-class with advice bordering on preachy but starting this dialogue with a diverse mass audience is the function of responsible mature cinema.

So even if it does seem out of the way for the father to come back to resume the discussion, you let it pass because the intent of the filmmaker is noble and in fact, remain impressed with the effective indirectness of the advice. In fact, these are the most crucial parts of the film, even if a little divergent from the core narrative (to the extent that this advice has no bearing on the outcome of Ishaan’s journey) simply because they are relevant and contemporary as social commentary.

The film though rich in sub-text as much as it is in colour, imagery and detail (researched and edited by Deepa Bhatia) for those with the eye, remains rather simplistic at its core as a story of a child with a problem getting the right kind of encouragement, love and support.

By far, Taare Zameen Par is the movie of the year. One that is likely to sweep awards for Darsheel, Aamir and team all around the world. It’s not just out of the box, Taare is simply out of this world.


Blogger Unknown said...

well.. i aint a blogger, jus a regular reader of ur column in The Hindu..

firstly, loved the article on Aishwarya Rai & her diamonds. Think tat was the best one i read about the same event, thou it was covered in a lot of other publcations. Hats off to you.

Now for Taare Zameen par, I loved the movie myself, and came out from the cinema with mascara running all over my face. Its truely the film of the year.

Loved the Hail Hitler bit by Amir Khan in the staff romm, thou the song and dance entry was pushing it a little too much.

The small wonder of a boy needs special apreciation, n his teeth is so like mine when i was that age!!

well.. all in all, i could so relate to it all, n for the entire team of the film, my heartfelt regrds


12:38 AM  
Blogger Pointblank said...

Whao! first time reading a review of this kind from u. The movie has to be really good then. hoping to catch it soon.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Sarvesh said...


Happened to read your review.Good one!!!An awesome film.A perfect balance between fantasy and reality and thank god Mr.Ram Shankar Nikumbh plays only the role of art teacher and not God as in usual hindi mawkish melodrama.A dream debut for Aamir.


3:03 AM  
Blogger Arvind said...

I was passed on a DivX version of this movie but after reading your review I think I'll wait to catch it on DVD! A low quality print would not do justice, I think.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Kelvy said...

The review is really good..had heard that the movie is very good and that its touching and also does project the message well.....anyway after reading your review, i want to see it...

1:02 AM  
Blogger Krupa Ge said...

I cried rite thru the movie.. and the animation tht he's used, the colors and the lil boys - everything promises better future for bollyworld i guess..

1:28 AM  
Blogger Shiva said...

"Because a dash of melodrama would create a larger-than-life disconnect with the issue rooted in the reality of a competitive, contemporary world. " - this is what has made the film the success it has become.

The masses and the classes can relate to each and every aspect of the movie and its relevance in today's state of Indian education cannot in any manner be overemphasized.

3:07 AM  

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