Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kho na jaaye yeh Taare Zameen Par

If you were to watch only one movie this holiday season, I suggest you make it Taare Zameen Par that released today.



It's a movie about a dyslexic boy who can't seem to do anything right academically and prefers fish and paints to books and sports. It's about how he is misunderstood by all around him (including his parents), and how one special teacher helps him and others around him realise, appreciate and celebrate his inner worth. The beauty of the movie lies in the fact that the movie is less about the dyslexia itself and more about the boy, the relationships he shares with people around him and his feelings... the final 'moral', as it were, being that everyone is different in their own special and unique way; in trying to conform to the world's perception of success, structured thinking, reward/punishment and appropriate behaviour, one loses sight of this uniqueness. And thus, we stand to unknowingly lose these taare zameen par, literally these stars on Earth.

This is easily one of the best movies to have come out of much maligned (and rightly so!) Bollywood this year.

I am not going to review this movie. I do not have the skills to present a compelling review of the movie from a filmmaking standpoint. Nor am I a cinebuff in any sense of the word, to be able to draw academic comparisons between TZP and other great works of the past. I write as a normal member of the audience. And, sitting with a hundred other people in that darkened hall, I lived the life of the troubled protagonist Ishaan through the magnificent narrative of Amole Gupta and the creative lens of the constantly surprising Aamir Khan.

The movie has several things going for it. First things first - the star of the show. No, not Aamir Khan but Darsheel Safary, the young boy who carries the entire movie completely on his frail shoulders. His expressions, his body language, his voice... all draw the viewer into his little make believe world where the letters of the alphabet dance and Captain Bindaas solves math problems in unique ways. Throw in a brilliant supporting cast - particularly Tisca Chopra as the mother and Aamir Khan as, of course, the teacher - and you have an ensemble cast that hits the perfect notes in practically each and every scene.

All this backed by a beautiful story and a strong script, that treads the fine line between sensitivity and mawkish sentimentality to perfection. It involves you in the life and problems of the protagonist, while not drowning one in an overdose of preachiness and melodrama (please tone it down just a little, Mr Sanjay Leela 'Black' Bhansali). The school scenes were imaginatively written and wonderfully shot, evoking deep empathy with Ishaan but also providing a solid sense of nostalgia for one's own school days.

The direction was good - I know nothing of the finer technical aspects to be able to make any sensible comment on them - but full credit is due to Aamir, for ensuring that his star presence does not in any way come remotely close to overshadowing the primary character. And do NOT miss out on the montage of videos played during the closing credits; they're an extremely beautiful collection - moving, cute, touching, disturbing, hopeful...

And last but definitely not the least, the music. Mindblowing. Just the right touches and soft flourishes in the right places to make each song meld beautifully into the story, enabling the filmmakers to stick to Bollywood convention of songs every ten minutes yet use unconventional melodies (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) and simple lyrics (Good show, Prasoon Joshi!) to perfectly capture the characters' state of mind. I would strongly recommend the infectious 'Bum Bum Bole' (much better on the screen than on audio), the beautiful, lilting title song and the starkly simple yet meltingly moving 'Maa', which evocatively expresses the boy's loneliness and longing when separated from his mother.

This is one movie you must not miss.

This is one movie that I did not come out of cribbing that I hadn't got value for the insanely expensive movie ticket.

This is one movie that I would love to see succeed commercially, if only to prove the point that modern India stills values and appreciates fine filmmaking, and is willing to pay for it and not consign it to the deathly spiral of film festivals and special screenings. It would really anger me if this movie were to crash and burn (as several trade analysts predicted before its release, given its storyline) even as a leave-your-brain-at-home-to-watch-a-marketing-genius-with-six-packs Om Shanti Om rakes in over a hundred crores.

This is now the best Bollywood movie I've seen all year, beating out the astonishingly well made sports movie Chak De! India and the poetically shot, controversial commercial dud (and India's entry to the Oscars!) Eklavya.

So do yourself a favour this holiday season, folks. Watch Taare Zameen Par. If it makes you think about children differently for even a few minutes, it will have achieved its purpose. It will have had the impact and response it aimed for and deserves.


Nitin said...

Hello AC,
We are pleased to announce the launch of 'Chakpak Picture Gallery Widgets - beta' . Movie Picture Gallery Widgets are small HTML scriptlets which you can copy to your blog and they show nifty picture gallery for the configured movie. They are a neat addition to your blog entry.

It looks like you are a movie buff, and frequently blog about movies. These Picture Gallery Widgets would be a great addition to the movie reviews that you write.

To start just go to Find the widget which you like. Click on 'Grab this widget' and copy-paste the HTML scriptlet and you are done!

We hope you like them. Please send us any feedback on the widgets and help us improve the widgets further.

Chakpak Team

Anonymous said...

:) I figured you'd like this movie. I have to yet watch it. A watched it, and said the same. I guess I will catch it sometime. - Nandu

Kraz Arkin said...

Comment on this, combined with comment on previous post - number 17 on the advice of the year post.

Edwin said...

hello nice blog and nice movie!!

interested in exchanging links?

my blog:

rock on man!

Anonymous said...

I didn't read your post....i read only the first sentence...i know that seems weird,but i watched the movie...and reading about it immediately is not my thing....but yes...not seen such a one in a LONG time.

Am so glad i watched it on the first day itself..totally worth it.


Nandini Vishwanath said...

Here you go :)

bg said...

the movie was fantastic. it left me and all the Indians crying,as we watched ishaan carry the movie so well!
aftre watching crap movies this yr in tamil especially like vel,polladhavan and other shit i am glad this happened!!

AC said...

Thanks Nitin, I'll use them where relevant.

@Nandu/Kraz: Read your reviews on the movie... it's been a while since I've found a movie everyone I know is positively inclined towards!

AC said...

@Ag/bg: Absolute ACP, totally worth it... In fact, I went and watched it again with my mother!

@edwin: sure, why not? :)

Girish said...

FIVE times in the theatre, and twice on my personal dvd :)

AC said...

@Girish: It's well worth it :)

Pandith Raghavendra said...

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