Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tare Zameen Par

The movie sends across a good message. I hope the message is well-received given this film brings across charming performances, that of Ishaan's perplexed mother and loving, yet ambitious father. Ishaan has managed to steal the show with his blank day-dreaming phases.

Ishaan comes back home with his white school shirt turned a messy dirty brown after his adventures in the puddles outside his school. He candidly announces: "The letters are dancing" when asked to read a sentence in class.

The fertile imagination of a child has been beautifully captured. The scenes are heart-warming. The children- giggling thru broken milk teeth, yawning, pushing and punching each other in the assembly line touch a chord. They bring to us face to face with the innocence we only lament as a loss and remember with nostalgia, or that we can only relive by being close to children again. By hugging and kissing (and getting pushed back when the burst of affection gets annoying to them)and getting boggled by their endless questions. There's no other way to go on a more spiritual journey than being close to children and seeing Taare Zameen Par seemed more of a silent, much needed reunion with lost childhood.

The film sends across an extremely important message but, talking about the movie in itself, may I say I was a trifle disappointed?

People often make the mistake of taking the message of a movie and the movie as a product as the same thing. Taare Zameen Par comes at a time when education indeed needs to be taken seriously. (Or ironically, shall we say, a little less seriously than it is being done now...) In any case, the movie had the potential to carry the same message in a much more organized, realistic and convincing fashion than the present product.

At three hours, an hour or half more than the average length of the movies we see these days, Amir Khan, the director, could have put across the message of the movie much more succinctly had the first half of the movie been tightened a bit. I felt that a few dialogues, a few scenes could have been butchered (yes, I use the word butchered for each second on the reel, in itself, was beautiful and well-shot) to put the point across in a more appealing fashion to ambitious parents, caught between love and insecurity with regards to their children.

The fantastic grooming undertook for Ishaan by Ram, the teacher, could have been dealt with in a more indepth fashion. While Ishaan's imagination to answer 3 into 9 equals 3 left me grinning from ear to ear, amazed and happy, I would have loved to see a few more shots of the beautiful way in which Ram spends time with Ishaan to teach him the alphabets and maths. Ishaan learns maths while hopping up and down the steps and alphabets he learns by scribbling on sand and dribbling in the paints. Beautiful, but short-lived on the reel.

One more thing that disappointed me in this film was Amir Khan. Why?

I feel, and so does my husband, that there was too much of Amir- the personality, in Ram, the teacher. Amir Khan has somehow failed to shed his baggage as an intellectual when he falls in the shoes of Ram Nikhumbh, the arts teacher. We expected more of acting, but it seemed it's Amir playing the thoughtful Amir Khan in the psuedonym of Ram Nikumbh. We would have loved to see Ram Nikhumb, the arts teacher in a more defined, more distinct and well-scripted out shade than an Amir Khan copied and pasted in the role of Ram Nikumbh. Case in point, you can't mistake Amir Khan, the host, welcoming his guests with a smirky confidence, firm handshakes and managing a crowd of more than 2000 children with elan. I felt any Ram Nikumbh, an arts teacher, would have had his nervous, sweat breaking moments on times like this than the confident stride and demeanour which was unrealistically projected in the film.

You getting what I am trying to say? I mean, the beauty of cinema is its surreal imagination and the extent of contrast between the actor and the character. The more the contrast, the more enticing the exercise of watching a film becomes. In this movie, Amir Khan seems to have remained Amir Khan. That was disappointing.

What about Darsheel Safary? He's charming, but perhaps a little older to be believed as a third standard student. I loved Ishaan. His mischievous glares when he was happy, his silent indignance after being buckled down in the hostel were endearing...

The end title sequence can move you to tears. This movie has captured the sheer innocence that children are.

We owe Amir Khan a lot for he brought to us this movie and though I would have loved to replace the credit to Ram Nikumbh in the sentence, I am afraid I can't. :)

-Gauri Gharpure