I am starting this blog to be able to write to my heart's content. I dont want to advertise this blog but I would want people to chance on it and give their comments. This is the first of many contradictions that will make up this blog

Location: India

Monday, January 07, 2008

Taare Zameen Par - A Review

I have entered a contest for movie reviewing. It's my first attempt at reviewing keeping things like word limits etc in mind (650 words for this contest). This is what I have sent.

'A Sensible Start'

On a recent trip to Hampi, I watched as a group of children were led into a temple ruin as part of their excursion. A round faced child, in his excitement, momentarily broke away from the carefully formed queue, distracted by a monkey on the side. One male teacher came behind him stealthily and cuffed him on his head a few times. Two more teachers followed, beating him relentlessly on his thighs with sticks. All this for breaking away from a line.

Taare Zameen Par makes you relive the same pain by taking you along a 8-year old’s journey as he battles prejudice and his own unknown demons. By the end, it leaves you informed, pensive, uplifted and joyful.

Aamir Khan takes on the directorial baton for the first time and makes judicious use of the tools at his disposal. None more so than Darsheel Safary (in the role of the protagonist Ishaan Awasthi) who portrays a gamut of emotions convincingly through the course of the movie, but more importantly, remains an ordinary child through it all. The animation sequences deserve special mention. The simplicity of their execution adds to their ability to effectively portray a child's psyche in ways that words could never have substituted. The story narrative remains linear with clear delineations. The plot establishes the innocence of childhood, goes on to describe the prejudice faced by the protagonist, takes us to his succumbing to the pressures and finally redeems him. But it is the finer touches that elevate this movie. The physical smallness of the protagonist is exploited wonderfully. Every frame featuring him establishes his vulnerability by contrasting his smallness to all the others in the same scene. The involuntary twitch that the child develops through the course of the movie and the contrast between his initial sprints filled with frustration and the final redeeming one are powerful hooks.

Aamir Khan has made a bright start as a director by being secure about his abilities. He has not succumbed to the weight of any expectations by resorting to gimmickry. It is a heartening script and the director allows it to rule. The DVD deserves pride of place in his library.

The supporting characters constantly play the balancing act on the bridge of stereotypes (The authoritarian father, the caring yet powerless mother, the caricaturish teachers). But they refuse to fall off. Credit for that has to be given to the performances of some unheralded actors and the occasional fine lines that they are entrusted with. Tisca Chopra's (playing Ishaan's mother) plaintive 'Eenu' is simple, powerful and so, forgiven for it's melodrama. Vipin Sharma (as the father) is convincingly menacing and will have to come out of hiding soon.Aamir Khan (as the teacher) delivers what is expected of him but remains firmly in the background. It only helps the movie.

The parts of the movie dealing with dyslexia seem to have been researched thoroughly from the layman's point of view. The ability to portray that feeling is a key strength of the script and enhances the impact. The recurring theme that comes to mind for this movie is 'apt'. Not individually extraordinary but 'apt' for what needs to be depicted. The same applies to Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music as it fits in seamlessly with the theme and elevates it.

Taare Zameen Par works because there can only be one winner, one topper in each class. The readymade audience is everyone else who identifies, each in their own way, with the trials of the protagonist. It identifies a key failing - Ignorance, and makes a start at tackling it. At the end of it all, you wish for primary school teaching to be the highest paid job in any country so that the country's best take it up - if only for it's life changing abilities.

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