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Review : Taare Zameen Par

Aamir Khan's directorial flick rekindles the uncomfortable moments of our childhood, writes Khalid Mohamed.

movie reviews Updated: Apr 25, 2008 17:45 IST
Khalid Mohamed

Taare Zameen Par
Cast: Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan
Direction: Aamir Khan
Rating: * * * *

He’s special. Mixing poster paint colours, grinning at gutter fish and ignoring the breakfast idli dish, the eight-year-old boy’s life is an endless wish.

That’s Ishaan, the super-taara of Taare Zameen Par. Here, then, is the first go at direction by Aamir Khan – with acknowledged help from writer-and-‘creative director’ Amole Gupte. Gentlemen, do take a bow.

Indeed, they buck the easy-cash formula by tiptoeing into the mind of a child who is harangued as a duffer. He can’t handle arithmetic, tears up a red-inked report card and bunks class. Does that strike a chord?

Absolutely. All of us have been guilty of such trespasses is some degree or the other. Khan rekindles those uncomfortable moments of our childhood but reassures us that hey, it’s quite okay to be out-of-the-box.

Pulled out of his internal wonder world, Ishaan (Darsheel Safary) is banished to a boarding school -- the ultimate sign of parental rejection. Isolated, the boy goes into a suicidal shell. Hell! Mercifully at intermission point, an angelic art teacher (Aamir Khan) whooshes in. The teacher recognises symptoms of dyslexia and strikes the kind of emotional contact with the child that you thought was lost at the movies. And your tears flow. <b1>

Yup, Taare.. is a weepie and not ashamed of it. Several terrific scenes stay with us. Like the teacher treating a tiny canteen boy to tea, the bargaining session with the school principal to allow the child one more chance before expulsion. And the finale’s painting competition.

But drat. Quite hideously, the teaching staff is portrayed as Hitler-like caricatures. One of the gargoyles has more hair on his ears than Rapunzel had on her head, a roll-calling Miss is a shrieking banshee, and a dorm warden gloats, “We have tamed wilder horses here.” Please. In fact, we worry that the teaching community could protest against its grotesque portrayal.

Also, Ishaan’s scowl-scowl dad is a virtual Mogambo. Inexplicably, he walks away from an opportunity to redeem himself – just by giving the boy a Munnabhai-like jhappi. Plus, a cartoon interlude drags. And what about a Lady Jabeen who hangs around Teacher saab? Honestly, woh kaun thi?

And yoww, what about that cliched cheesy stock shot of a bird feeding its babies? Technically, the look and the shot takings are humdrum. The editing (teacher waits for bus, gets into bus, feels warm about mum-‘n’-kid in bus) slackens the daunting length of 18 reels.

The dialogue shuttles between the simple and the stridently sanctimonious. As for the music score, it’s remarkable essentially for the moving Maa and Mera jahaan composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and excellently written by Prasoon Joshi.

Of the cast, it’s a treat to see Aamir Khan assigning himself second spot to the film’s edifying thematic concerns (tackled only occasionally as in the American TV feature Backwards: Riddle of Dyslexia, 1984). His presence, both in front and behind the camera, has a log fire warmth. Tisca Chopra as the harried, egg-frying mom, is correctly restrained.

Above all, the amazingly confident child actor Darsheel Safary is the li’l big champion here.

A must-experience for sensitive viewers. And do stick on for the end credit titles, showing documentary footage of children with smiles and tears as real as yours..and mine.