Taare Zameen ParCast: Aamir Khan, Tisca Chopra, Darsheel Safary, M. K. Raina; Director: Aamir Khan; Rating: ***

Ishaan Nandkishore Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) is all of eight and has repeated his third grade already. Papa Awasthi is one angry middle-aged man who wants Ishaan to be like his older brother Yohaan (Sachet Engineer) – a winner. Caught between the father and son is the mother (Tisca Chopra) who cannot decide for herself what is right and what’s not. Things reach a head and Ishaan is packed off to a boarding school. Far away from home and family, the otherwise lively Ishaan withdraws into a shell and refuses to participate in anything whatsoever. But unknown to everyone around him and definitely not by the parameters of his father, Ishaan is a winner. And it is upto his art teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir) to show the world what a unique child he is.

Taare Zameen Par comes at a time when reports of student suicides and campus killings are haunting us as never before. Whether it’s Noida or Mumbai, kids are increasingly finding themselves at a point where they either have to join the rat race or simply be left behind. Indeed at a very basic level Taare Zameen Par talks about the travails of a special child, who is struggling to be part of the world around him. But in more ways than one the film addresses the issues that children living on the fringes have faced for the longest time.

Aamir and KidAt the same time, with its sensitively written story and screenplay, Taare… brings back to mind some of the bittersweet experiences from our own childhood. While Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score leaves us with moist eyes, it is Setu’s cinematography that translates the melody (and indeed the story) on to the screen. Setu’s job has indeed been quite challenging for capturing the spontaneity of children has never exactly been easy.

A special round of applause for Darsheel who is brilliant in his debut as is Aamir… in his. But here’s a word of advice: Don’t watch Taare Zameen Par for its craft because chances are you’ll miss out on the simplicity it brings forth through its almost three hour duration. Here’s a towel-wringing movie, enjoy it for what it is worth.

The length! Taare… is about 170 minutes long and that can be a put off sometimes. Moreover some of the songs could have easily been done away with. However the movie does hold fort despite its slack pace. And if you are the ‘emotional sorts’ you wouldn’t even mind it so much. But it’s the ending of the film that somehow stands out as a sore thumb. While for most part the movie tells us about the evils of competition, at the end ironically Ishaan is shown jumping into the very fray. Also the last 20-odd minutes could have been blindly snipped away and yet Taare… would have been just as enjoyable as it is now. In a way Aamir gives in to our need for a happy ending and stretches his narrative to provide just that.

If you think Taare Zameen Par is some sort of a dissertation on dyslexia, forget about it. It’s a story about a boy and a teacher. That they both suffer from learning disability is just incidental. Go watch the film! Take your kids along and don’t mind if they laugh at you or point fingers. It’s a humbling experience.

Source: Buzz18

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