Saturday, January 12, 2008

Taare Zameen Par - Stars on the ground

Okay, the cheesy translation(which is, due to an some inspiration by my local DVD guy who wants to translate every movie title) aside, the movie TZP itself is a star in its own and all other rights.

When the rate of sub-standard movies coming out of Bollywood is faster than the birth of potholes on Indian roads, we have a winner. Taare Zameen Par, I am sure wasn't made to be part of the race.

There are a few times when a very new artist out performs senior players in the industry. 'Sixth Sense' is one example of this. Lux New Face Award in Filmfare awards is not. TZP is another example.

When every new movie that is made in Hindi has to have a romantic angle to it and very subtle points are exaggerated with emotional music, a song and liberal use of glycerine on the heroine's eyes, TZP managed it with great acting and minimal music. The point in the movie where the shishya (pupil) outperforms the guru (teacher) is true not just in the story but evident even in the acting. Aamir Khan's direction, of course played a huge part in production of this gem of a movie.

Ishant Avasthi is a dyslexic kid stuck in the race for perfection on report cards. A race set by parents and schools, but the participants never realised they were running in. So, when he cannot pass exams due to his inability of spelling and reading he is despised for his inabilities by his teachers and parents. This, by the way is nothing new for any kid in India, where he/she is judged solely on their report cards and nothing else.

His condition, dyslexia, is discovered by his teacher Ram Nikumbh (Aamir Khan), who takes upon himself to improve Ishant's condition by teaching him. I thought this was another example of Bollywood excessiveness until I found out there is a pretty good reason for this.

As pointed out earlier, the entire movie rests only on great artistic skills of Darsheel Safary, the young artist who outperforms Aamir Khan not just in the story but in real life. When Darsheel weeps on the screen out of sadness, it radiates. "Fully grown men wail", was one observation noted in the cinema by a friend, I don't consider myself fully grown (not mentally at least), so I did not wail, but I was moved enough.

There is very good use of animation in this movie. Of all the children's movies that Bollywood doesn't make, one would think that animation is not part of their forte. But the few times that it does come up in TZP, we know that there is real promise in that direction. Whether directors or big studios would make some good children's movies is another question.

So, when you want a respite from all the stupid comedies and over-acting from old actors, a breather from the item numbers and a break from over use of glycerine on thick make up of heroines, watch Taare Zameen Par for some very genuine acting and a heart-touching story. I would translate the title as "A Star from Bollywood".