Film: Taare Zameen Par
Producer: Aamir Khan Productions
Presenter: PVR Pictures
Director: Aamir Khan
Cast: Aamir Khan, Darsheel, Tisca Chopra
Chicken soup for the soul of every parent, child and human who wishes to be one. Human that is.
There are million reasons for the birth of a film. Money, fame, desire, madness, passion are a few. Then there is also a need to share. TZP has been born out of this precise need to share, reach out and engage. It rises above critique because the spotlight is on the generation that decide our forthcoming fate. Our children. A spotlight that is honest and a very real.
Taare Zameen Par is a story of a dyslexic child and his journey towards conquering his disability with the help of an empathetic teacher. It is not an expose of the disability but an exploration of larger, deeper issues surrounding children, parenting and the education system.
The movie is not about dyslexia or how to survive it. Neither is it about the human spirit in us that surmounts unconquerable odds. It is not about beliefs that can work miracles. Nor is it about how to be the best parent by modifying the expectations from our children. It is not a Black, nor a Lagaan. It is a simple film that asks us to stop and look at our children. Feel, understand and care. For what is more important than their careers, lives, future. The children themselves.
The film includes a number of sub-texts and succeeds in exploring those layers skilfully. Its first success is in building a believable and real world of a child without resorting to any dramatics. Bit by bit, the unaffected and sensitive child-actor, writer and director create a world of innocence, sunshine and dewdrops where flowers smile good morning to you and stars sing lullaby to put you to sleep. It is also a world which is ravaged with a mindless insistence to conform. At whatever cost.
The film seems like it is choking with stereotypes and caricatures. But look closely and we find, these so-called caricatures make the fabric of our education system and the stereotypes exist so insidiously commanding within the system that we have ceased to even notice them. The education system is a major sub-text in the film but it does not talk about that. Instead it talks about our perceptions that refuse to acknowledge the truth and our conceptions that have completely skewed the understanding of the norm and exception.
Ishaanâ€™s character exemplifies this dichotomy. As the exception, he stands timid and bowed by a harsh world that follows the norm. Conventions, which were initially meant to nurture buds like him, have over-taken themselves in an increasingly changing world. In the process, they have not only lost all meaning but subverted the very goal they had set out to achieve. The film talks about our inability to notice this subversion. Perceptions. Point of view. Ishaan naively mouths this profundity while gauging the meaning of a poem. The film, above everything else is about that.
The film also succeeds because the portraits are well-drawn. Well-defined, with sharp, clear lines they are backed with a far-reaching vision. A great contribution for the fructifying of this vision goes to the lead actors. The endearing and poignant Darsheel Safary moves to smiles and tears with a heart-warming ease. It is not just the mirth in his eyes or the innocence on his face that evoke the days of oneâ€™s own childhood so strongly. The boy is talented and so completely un-self-conscious that he is an absolute pleasure to watch. Aamir Khanâ€™s aura might have drawn the audiences to the theatres, but it is not his presence alone that has kept them there.
Of course, Darsheelâ€™s victory, to a huge extent is Aamirâ€™s victory. The first-time director plays on your heart chords as honestly as he can and comes up with a very finely nuanced performance from the child and from Aamir-the star. Tisca Chopra delivers a touching and balanced performance as the suffering, powerless mother whose heart aches to see her child so but can do nothing to change it.
Aamir Khan tries his best to do full justice to his heavy mantle of producer-director-actor-star. He succeeds some and falters some. His successes are surprisingly so many that the faults do not seem relevant. Inclusion of avoidable scenes, crisper editing and tighter screenplay, lesser stereotyping etc., all seem like inconsequent issues when juxtaposed against the larger canvas of the film.
What elevates the film above all else is the smiles and the tears. For Aamir, the director they are not a tool to keep the audience hooked or a trap for the suspension of disbelief. The smiles and tears are what the whole film is all about. And that is the reason the film needs to be watched and absorbed. After all, what else is more important than that?