Timeout - Taare Zameen Par - A stellar show
by Jamuna Rangachari
Direction : Aamir Khan,
Script: Amol Gupte,
Cast: Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan
It is a children's movie, isn't it?" my friend asked, echoing the sentiments of many when I mentioned the film. "No, definitely not," I answered. "It is a sensitive human tale for all."
The film's protagonist, Darsheel Safary,
plays eight-year-old Ishaan, who lives in his own world of colours, fish, dogs, and kites, with an imagination that transcends the mundane. Burdened with a learning disability that defeats his every effort to read or write, he does not 'fit in' in the strait-jacketed world, frustrating his parents and teachers. The fact that his brother is a conventional high-achiever only adds to
his parents' frustration as they cannot understand where they have gone wrong with Ishaan. His exasperated father decides to send him to a boarding school to discipline him. He doesn't fit in there, either. The boy is ridiculed and almost written off as lazy, incapable, and a
failure. The academic pressure, combined with the sense of being abandoned by his family,
erases the joy from his life, and he withdraws into a shell, even abandoning painting,
his favourite pastime.
It is only when the temporary art teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh, played by Aamir Khan, makes the effort to understand him that he comes into his element and blooms into a promising artist. Finally diagnosed as a dyslexic, and coached by his empathetic teacher through learning models that cater to his need, Ishaan ultimately begins to perform well academically.
Though it deals with dyslexia, the film is far from being cause-heavy. It focuses instead on the power of love, bonding, and the unique potential there is in every child. And therein lies its power to connect with everyone.
Amol Gupte, who has worked with children of different abilities for many years, has written a script that tugs at the heart-strings and, at the same time, makes one elated at human possibilities. Darsheel Safary as the lead actor is brilliant, and so is Aamir Khan, who sensitively plays second fiddle to the child star in the credits. Sachet Engineer as the elder brother and Tanay Cheda as the best friend are also very good. Tisca Chopra is particularly good as Ishaan's mother who agonises over him but does not know how to help him. Vipin Sharma as the strict father is convincing and competent. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is hummable and melodious, blending well into the film. Some of the songs, like Maa, remain with you long after you leave the theatre. The use of real locales instead of sets is a welcome change, too.
All in all, the film is a must for parents, teachers, children, and indeed for all.