|Name of Movie: Taare Zameen Par
Director: Aamir Khan
Producer: Aamir Khan
Writer and Co-Director: Amole Gupte
Starring: Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan, Tisca Chopra.
Watchable % : 60%
“If you allow Spirit to guide you and you reach out for help, you’ll find there is a way around any obstacle, for when you think God’s forgotten to supply you with something, just look with an open heart. You’ll see He only traded it for something more unique.” – Lindsay Wagner (A Dyslexic and an Emmy Award Winner among other achievements.)
The above quote just sums up the vision of what Amole Gupte (writer, Creative Director) would have wanted to translate on screen through Taare Zameen Par (TZP). Making a movie that shows events from the child’s viewpoint has always been a tricky subject. Plus if the subject is sensitive by nature you can expect the going as a filmmaker to be tougher. So, does the Aamir Khan directed TZP succeed in enthralling the audience? Let’s see.
The movie traces a period in the life of Ishaan’s (Darsheel Safary) childhood. At first glance Ishaan seems to be like any other child. He is an incorrigibly naughty eight year old child who escapes into his own fantasyland whenever he is left alone or in trouble. In addition he is a natural painter who takes to colours like how a duck takes to water. But all the talent he shows in his painting abilities sadly comes to naught where his studies are concerned. Ishaan is an abysmally mediocre performer in school much to the chagrin of his teachers and parents. That is because Ishaan is dyslexic. As the others aren’t aware of his condition, his teachers are quick to write him off as an underperformer. His dad is exasperated and is not able to fathom how Ishaan can be so bad when his elder brother is brilliant in everything from academics to extracurricular activities. His Mom (Tisca Chopra), who is the strong support of love on which Ishaan leans, tries to help him out but in vain. Nobody is able to understand and help him until a guiding spirit comes to Ishaan in the form of Nikumbh Sir (Aamir Khan). How Nikumbh recognizes Ishaan’s disability disorder and helps him, and the others to come to terms with it forms the crux of the movie’s story.
TZP is shot in a simple, unpretentious manner. Amole Gupte’s outstanding screenplay unfolds the story in a brilliant manner and tugs your emotional chords all throughout. Realms of media space have already been devoted on speculating what exactly would have gone wrong between Gupte and Khan. But all said and done the movie has seen the light of the day and I guess bygones might be bygones in the end. We first knew of Aamir Khan the actor, and then came Aamir Khan the perfectionist, followed by Aamir Khan the producer. TZP marks the debut of Aamir Khan as the director. So does he match up to the high standards set by his earlier avatars? Not really, the director in him doesn’t shine through out but he definitely doesn’t falter to deceive either. The sensitive first half is a case study of how to depict things from a child’s point of view. Note the chaotic opening sequence which demonstrates what goes through Ishaan’s mind on a daily basis when confronted with situations which seem to be mundane for others; the reaction of Ishaan when he is made to “stand outside the class” as a punishment; the bullying of Ishaan and his subsequent reaction – pure class. Aamir Khan shows his subtlety during the scenes in which Ishaan is roaming around the city just absorbing the sights and sounds. When silence speaks with a lot of eloquence you know that the movie is in the hands of an effective and an able craftsman.
But it’s not all smooth sailing though. If the first half reminds you of your wonderfully free and open childhood, the second half reminds you of your college days when you were subjected to dull lectures which bore an uncanny resemblance to the lecture that Nikhumb gives to Ishaan’s parents. The film is such a tearing hurry to reach its cliché-ridden climax that it treats the important Ishaan curing/helping sequences with disdain. The director missed a trick by not showing the different portions of Ishaan’s life in different hues. Would have made it a classic product. Then there are the sequences which establish Nikhumbh’s sensitivity that grate on your nerves. He kisses everybody and anybody who’s slightly underprivileged and cries at the drop of the hat whenever he sees an underprivileged kid anywhere near the horizon. Not to mention the terribly one dimensional characters. Everybody seem to be either full of sugar, spice and something nice (Nikumbh, Mom, Dada, Rajan and the street dog) or bad, angry and full of malice (everyone else other than Nikumbh, Mom, Dada, Rajan and the street dog !)
But the negative aspects of the movie are quickly forgotten (and forgiven) in the face of a few wonderfully written (and shot) heart breaking moments. Brilliant performances by Darsheel Safary and Tisca Chopra convince us of the pain and anguish that they both feel. Saying that the movie would not give the same impact in the absence of Darsheel Safary would be an understatement. The beautifully serene music by SEL backed up by wonderfully imaginative lyrics by Prasoon helps in elevating the movie’s brilliance.
Technically the movie is good and the cinematography by Setu is first rate. The editing could have been a bit smoother though. Some of the scenes in the second half seemed like as if the local projectionist was given the job of editing the movie. Gratifyingly Aamir Khan does not succumb to the lure of product placements even though there were plenty of opportunities for that. It’s almost as if he has decided the movie will make money from the audience only. This shows the confidence that Aamir had in the movie and his marketing abilities. This movie is a lesson for parents on how to treat every child in a unique manner and not to raise your child on the pedestal of expectations. But above all its best lesson is that to make a good movie a strong script and subtlety is more than enough.
Came across an interesting take on TZP. Recommend you to read it – Very Funny!!