Movie Review: Taare Zameen Par

This is a beautiful movie sensibly made to appeal to all sorts of audience across all strata of society. It touches a chord in your heart and connects with everybody. No one is left out. It does not matter if you are a parent, uncle, aunt, teacher, brother or sister. It’s sure to move you. I dare say, Taare Zameen Par is a commercial success as well as it will receive critical acclaim. Aamir Khan scores big time with his debut as a director.

But the star here is not Aamir, its Darsheel Safary, who plays the central character of Ishaan Awasti. Ishaan is a bubbly eight-year-old who sees a different world, always getting into fights and always faring badly in school. While his elder brother is a bright student, Ishaan has spent two years in the third standard. Exasperated, his father packs him off to a boarding school as a punishment. Already struggling with studies, Ishaan now has to deal with the pangs of separation. If earlier he would paint the canvass bright with colours, now he does nothing of the sort. In school, he has gone from bad to worse, but no one seems to know the reason for his dilemma. The truth is, he is dyslexic. In short, Ishaan has a learning disorder marked by impairment of the ability to recognise and comprehend written words.

My question and the only flaw I think in the movie is this; if the child has fared so badly so as to spend two years in one class, how come the parents have not noticed the troubled spot? That is a bit hard to digest. But you are willing to forgive Aamir this one flaw, because when you look at the canvass as a whole, he tackles the whole issue with Ishaan by befriending him and giving him back his self-confidence, and in the bargain winning himself a friend for life.

Darsheel Safary, for an eight-year-old gives off an excellent performance worthy of a standing ovation. This is one bright lad who has understood the character very well. Everything about Ishaan is perfect, from his body language, to the way he delivers his dialogues to the expression in his eyes which shouts for help. Only Aamir sees his plight, that’s because he too was once dyslexic and now teaches in Tulips, a special school for the differently-abled. The way Aamir brings a turn-a-round in Ishaan giving him an example of Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Alva Edision, all great men, who suffered from the same malaise, is heartening. At one moment, Ishaan and you as the viewer think it is Ishaan he is talking about!

The scene where Aamir visits Ishaan’s house and forces his father, Nandakishore Awasthi (Vipin Sharma), to read letters written in Chinese on a toy box, ridiculing him when he can’t, is a clincher! Also, when the father visits his boy in school and sees the improvement and learns that he is at fault, is gripping. He runs away as he can’t face his child. The scene where Ishaan wins the drawing competition and where he reluctantly comes ahead to receive his prize in front of the whole school will leave you moist-eyed.

The background score and music by Shankar Eshan Loy and Shailendra Barve is excellent. The lyrics, which go, “Aap ko malum hai na Maa….” is heart-wrenching.

Tisca Chopra as Ishaan’s mother is a revelation, so also is Vipin Sharma. He portrays the behaviour every working father wears on his sleeve. The bonding between Yohan Awasthi (Sachet Engineer) with his younger brother has been captured well by the director. Ditto the friendship between Ishaan and Rajan Damodaran (Tanay Chheda). Aamir has extracted excellent performances from these two kids.

To go or not: I strongly suggest that every school make it an exception to take bus loads of their school children along with all support staff to view this movie. It is a must-watch. Also, it will be good if it is made Tax Free, that way it will reach to an even wider audience.

Finally, a word to all those parents who are always in competition looking for a winner; let us say no. To all teachers; let’s make education a fun process rather than a boring exercise where a student is burdened with the expectations of getting good grades.

Like Aamir says, “Ishaan just has to score passing marks, his destiny is elsewhere.”

Rating: 4 / 5

Martin D’Souza

This first appeared on on December 21, 2007

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