Many years ago, a child used to don his Stretchlon half pants, his favourite navy blue sweater and a pair of worn out Hawai chappals to go pottering out in the misty countryside of Nilgiris. He studied rivulets, grasshoppers, droplets of rain and layers of oil only on one side of a Eucalyptus leaf. He was a loner and had to work very hard to keep up in class.
Taare Zameen Par reminds me of that boy, his anxieties, his rebellions, his lies and failures, his truths and successes. It reminds me of a lot more. Of pushy parents, of testy uncles, of indifferent teachers, of insular neighbours and above all it reminds me of unrivalled joys in the nature of life!
Taare Zameen Par is a very mature take on essence of childhood, relationships and parenthood. It talks about many things that hinges around a dyslexic boy, his situations and the indifference that he has to cope with before his drawing teacher who empathizes pulls him out of the morass.
Taare Zameen Par is a story that is a unique sum of many beautiful moments, emotional and apt. A few samples are on offer:
Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) is very disturbed on seeing the paintings by Ishaan (Darsheel Safary) in the child’s home and is aching at heart. He cannot be rude to the parents. The parents are naturally anxious on seeing him at their place. He wonders what to say. He asks for a glass of water! The tension is crackling. We are a part of it!!
The housemaster is at the entrance of the hostel on a bench. The sun is setting. Ishaan comes back from a lonely stroll. The Housemaster asks where had he been to, very authoritatively, but takes him into the hostel with a hand at his shoulder. Love in unknown forms!
The mother retrieves Ishaan’s flipbook. The mother and we see the contents of the flipbook again and again. Both of us register Ishaan’s loneliness and hopelessness. Both of us are stricken. Very moving!
Ishaan is told to get out of the class. He has to be brave and hs to be showing it to his classmates. So he does that classic fist pump, “Yess” and walks out jauntily. He is happy, we smile but there is huge undercurrent of solitude in this act of his!
Ishaan is buying Icegola. He is more interested in what is being done with the Ice by the server. We are taken in by the act. Then, it is served to a child perched on the shoulders of a bare bodied labourer. The child starts eating the Icegola. The labourer turns and walks away, proud and erect, for us and for his child. Mesmeric symmetry in thought and shot! And all this happened in the course of a song. Wow!!
Nikumbh keeps Ishaan back in class after he has explained dyslexia in class. He then reveals the identity of another person who was not mentioned in front of the whole class. Ishaan looks on in trepidation. Nikumbh reveals about himself. Fabulous moment. A story in itself!!
The father is extremely miffed with Ishaan. He is packing. Ishaan asks where is he going. He says he is going away from home. Ishaan is sorry. He keeps repeating ‘Sorry’. We are taken in. His mother intervenes. She says his father is lying. Ishaan is now angry at the betrayal. A mini satire on parents today!
Then, there are the plot points that drive the story and the involvement by leaps and bounds. That needs to be seen on screen.
Some narrative styles are new with an animated song and a documentary ending. The dialogue is kept to a minimum in most part of the movie allowing us to soak in the atmosphere, the child’s urges, loneliness and intelligence.
In fact, the camerawork, sound design and lighting communicate with us directly using the silence and the background music as communicating tools. Just great!
Here is where the team scores. Here is where the story truly catches us and takes us into Ishaan’s world. This is the most unique contribution of Aamir Khan, the director, Amol Gupte, the Creative director and the writer and Deepa Bhatia, the Editor of this film.
The actors suited their roles to a T. The surprise was how each kid was handled. Darsheel and Tanay (as Ishaan’s friend Rajan) turn in majestic performances. Tisca Chopra, as the mother, is a revelation. Aamir did not act. He just felt his character. Flawless!!
The teachers were probably told to be a little over the top. Indian Cinema needs, I guess!
Taare Zameen Par is truly path breaking and has to be seen by one and all and for their own reasons. It is compelling middle of the road cinema. Something that has disappeared since a gentleman named Hrishikesh Mukherjee had stopped making movies.
Oh, by the way, the boy from the first few lines was yours truly 30 years back!