Review: Taare Zameen Par / Welcome

Picture courtesy: apunkachoice.com

SCHOOL DAZE

A child’s learning disability forms the focus of an earnest, well-crafted drama that’s not entirely successful. Plus – yawn! – another Akshay Kumar comedy.

DEC 23, 2007 – ONE OF THE REPORTED REASONS THAT AAMIR KHAN decided to take over directing duties on Taare Zameen Par (after differences with the original director Amole Gupte, who is now credited as writer and creative director) is that he was afraid the actor he’d chosen for the central role of Ishaan Awasthi would grow up – and seeing the film, you can understand his concern. Darsheel Safary, who plays Ishaan, isn’t the kind of kid we usually see in the movies – a precocious brat producing instantly cute reactions on demand. He has one of the most open faces you’ve seen, without a trace of artifice in it, and he carries the film with hardly any dialogues, merely with close-up after affecting close-up. It’s a beautiful performance, and it’s only right that Safary gets top billing in the opening credits.

Ishaan is no doubt a composite of various real children, but he has in him the traces of three specific youngsters from imagined worlds. Like Antoine Doinel from Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, Ishaan is the classic alienated kid, a misfit-dreamer. Like Babla in Gulzar’s Kitab, Ishaan is a misunderstood child who’s not fond of school. (Ishaan’s playtime scuffle with a bigger boy reminded me of Babla entangled with the school bully on the playground. And speaking of Gulzar, is it he who coined the phrase “taare zameen par” thirty years ago, when he wrote the lyrics for Do deewane shehar mein in Gharonda?) And, finally, Ishaan is like Calvin, from the comic strip, whose hyperactive imagination helps him negotiate the tedious everydayness of daily life. Aamir generally goes overboard in his use of computer graphics elsewhere in the film, but he gets it absolutely right in the brilliant scene where Ishaan transforms into a character like (Calvin’s alter ego) Spaceman Spiff upon encountering a pesky math problem, clearly convinced that the only way to tackle multiplication is by hopping into a spaceship.

But slowly it becomes clear that the problem with Ishaan is not just alienation or a lack of interest in studies. When he’s singled out by a teacher to list out the adjectives in a sentence, he looks at his textbook and announces, “The letters are dancing.” He is dyslexic – though this pinpoint diagnosis doesn’t occur until well into the second half of the film. The truly remarkable thing that Aamir Khan (as director) has achieved in Taare Zameen Par is an unhurried, even meandering, pace that sits you down and urges you to absorb the externals, the outward manifestations both physical and psychological, of this learning disorder. These portions are so exquisitely realised, so attuned to the poetry inherent in the child’s-eye-view of a world where everyone else seems different, that it’s perhaps inevitable that the film turns dully prosaic when it gets down to the actual business of “curing” Ishaan (and hurriedly at that, all during the course of one song).

And you begin to see that Taare Zameen Par is structured along the lines of Kaushik Roy’s Apna Asmaan, which was about parents seeking to cure their autistic son (who was also a painter, like Ishaan here). Like Shobhana, who played the mother in Apna Asmaan, Ishaan’s mother (Tisca Chopra) has given up a career to look after her son. Like the mother and father in the earlier film, Ishaan’s mother and father (Vipin Sharma) appear to be setting goals for their child that he may not necessarily be equipped to achieve. The desperate hand-wringing of the parents, the arrival of the miracle cure (here, in the form of art teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh, played by Aamir) – we’ve seen it all in Apna Asmaan. But where Taare Zameen Par becomes its own film, distinct from Roy’s, is that it packs off the child to boarding school – which is, oddly, its biggest strength as well as the beginning of its undoing.

In terms of commercial considerations, the boarding school hook is a stroke of genius – because it sets the stage for Aamir Khan, The Performer (sincere and affecting as always). With his hair done up in a style that resembles a Mohawk crossed with the swirl at the top of an ice cream cone, the actor infuses a 200-volt jolt of electricity into the film. He makes his entry with a song sequence – Bum bum bole – that’s such a blast of raucous energy, he seems to be hinting to the audience that their patience so far is going to pay off. And sure enough, from this point onwards, Taare Zameen Par turns less individual, more crowd-pleasing. And that’s not a bad thing at all, for if a big star can use his big clout to get big numbers of audiences to watch something they otherwise wouldn’t touch with the proverbial bargepole (case in point: Apna Asmaan), that alone is a completely valid reason for a movie’s existence.

But Aamir Khan, The Performer, becomes a bit of a problem for Aamir Khan, The Director (in the same way that Kamal Hassan, the actor, often becomes an albatross around the neck of Kamal Hassan, the director) – because, around interval point, Taare Zameen Par stops being about Ishaan and starts to chronicle Nikumbh. Though this is understandable in a common-sense way – you can’t have a huge star and not use the very things that people like about this huge star – you can’t help feeling that the stage has been cleared to train the spotlight on Aamir Khan. In the earlier half, Ishaan’s mother comes across as a genuine presence in her son’s life. When he roughs up a kid and breaks a neighbour’s flower pots, his father slaps him, but his mother kneels down and gently tells him to go and have a shower, after which she’ll apply Dettol on his wounds. He gives her hell in the mornings as she tries to get him ready for school, but just as she puts him on the bus and just before the bus takes off, she kisses him goodbye.

She’s endlessly exasperated by Ishaan, but she loves him endlessly too – even if, strangely, there’s little protest from her when her husband announces that he’s sending Ishaan to boarding school – and it leaves a huge vacuum on screen, and in Ishaan’s life, when she practically vanishes during the second half. Whenever there’s a child (or an adult, for that matter) who’s “different,” it’s not just this child who suffers, it’s also the others around. I guess I’m thinking about Mani Ratnam’s Anjali, because that was a film about a child with problems, and you felt the impact of this child on these others – on the mother, on the father, on the siblings, on the neighbours. But because Ishaan is in boarding school throughout the latter portions of the film, the only person in his life, after a point, is Nikumbh – who becomes not just teacher, but also surrogate mother and father, and friend and philosopher and guide.

Perhaps the fact that Aamir Khan is in the movie necessitated these decisions. After all, if he were just teacher and nothing else, what would he do on screen as the film focussed on the others? But that’s perhaps why an actor with less wattage may have been the solution – for we would have then had ourselves a film that worked through its story with the help of an ensemble low-profile cast, whereas Taare Zameen Par eventually turns into a hero-centric movie. I couldn’t shake away the nagging feeling that the story wasn’t any more about Ishaan overcoming his problems so much as Nikumbh helping Ishaan overcome his problems. And that’s a big shift in tone.

Towards the end, there’s a moment when Ishaan climbs down a few stairs and he stumbles just as he nears Nikumbh, who – of course – steadies the child. It’s the capping-off visual metaphor for their relationship, one that’s somewhat like the relationship between Rani Mukerji and Amitabh Bachchan in the melodramatic Black, another story about a student with a handicap and a teacher with radical ideas. But where that film was heavily stylised and impossible to read at a real level – if you had an engagement with it at all, it was at a hyper-emotional level, for nothing in it resembled anything around us – Taare Zameen Par is set in a world that’s recognisably lived-in. We know these teachers, these students, these middle-class homes, those parents and neighbours. So when this film veers into melodrama, the manipulation is hard to digest.

The layered textures of the first half gradually give way to an uncomfortably black-and-white universe: the rest of the world in black versus Aamir in white. Every one of the teachers at boarding school is an offensive cartoon painted in the broadest of strokes, and cruel too – like the instructor who raps Ishaan on the knuckles with a wooden ruler. Aamir, by contrast, laughs and sings and clowns around (literally; his entry into the film is in a clown suit). Ishaan’s father is so insensitive to his children’s needs that he can’t handle something as small as the elder son losing a tennis match. Aamir, by contrast, is so sensitive, he cries at the mere sight of children. He sees differently-abled kids perform in an Annual Day celebration – and his eyes well up with tears. He sees a kid mopping up tables at a roadside eatery – and his eyes well up with tears. He sees Ishaan’s paintings – and his eyes well up with tears. It’s no wonder that, at some point during his visit to Ishaan’s house, he asks for a glass of water; you’re not surprised, considering his constant loss of fluids.

I realise that came off a trifle mean-spirited in the face of a mainstream film so generous in wanting to tell a story that mainstream audiences are not used to – but the attempts at reconciling these realities were part of the problem for me with Taare Zameen Par. So Ishaan’s father is insensitive – but how about showing us where he is coming from, how his own overachieving childhood, say, or even a high-stress career has left him with no patience for an underperforming son? Instead, we get the scene where Nikumbh gives the man a lecture about natives in the Solomon Islands, who – when they want to get rid of a tree – gather around it and curse it, so it withers away. The crash of discordant chords in the background leaves you in no doubt that this insta-sermon has made Ishaan’s father see the error of his ways. (At least, this is better than the tinkly, fairy-dust music that’s liberally sprinkled everywhere else, apparently to provide soothing uplift but really just smoothening out every interesting rough edge into sentimental blandness.)

Still, considering that he gives us a great first half and an intermittently interesting latter half, Taare Zameen Par should go down as a success for Aamir Khan. He has a real flair for the small, slice-of-life-moment – for the head of cabbage that rolls down from a vegetable vendor’s cart, for the dab of white paint that falls from a hoarding-painter’s brush, for the dog resting its head on Ishaan’s lap as the other, “normal” kids play cricket. And he gets a huge amount of support from composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and lyricist Prasoon Joshi, who map out in admirably abstract terms the very things that the non-musical portions of the film end up laying out in (inevitably) concrete terms. Mera jahan, Bheja kum, Maa, Jame raho and Kholo kholo are the closest that Hindi film music has come to channelling the indulgent, rock-fuelled angst of Pink Floyd – and it’s a great touch that Maa (which is about Ishaan’s state-of-mind after being abandoned at boarding school) is sung by Shankar Mahadevan and not a child. After all, the fear of a parent leaving you all alone isn’t exclusive to childhood.

Picture courtesy: apunkachoice.com

IS THERE ANYTHING MORE DEPRESSING than seeing a filmmaker being handed big bags of cash, a sprawling cast and dream locations, and then churning out something that comes off like it was written on a paper napkin in fifteen minutes, while reminiscing about key moments from Mickey Blue Eyes? Apart from a few laughs (mostly in the second half), the only point of interest for me in Anees Bazmee’s Welcome was an early scene where Akshay Kumar barges into a fire to rescue Katrina Kaif. You expect him to do what every dashing hero does and save the girl, but after a while, it’s she who walks out, with an unconscious Akshay slung over her shoulder.

It’s good to see that our cinema today can spoof our one-time staple of macho heroism – but, otherwise, what a waste of an interesting cast that includes Anil Kapoor, Feroz Khan and Nana Patekar! The story deals with the complications that ensue when the hero falls for a girl from a mobster family, and these complications somehow end in a seesaw-house climax right out of Gold Rush. Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal, once again, do what they’ve (profitably) been doing in their Priyadarshan comedies, and their shtick is beginning to wear really thin. Their Hera Pheri buddy, Suniel Shetty, makes a special appearance, as if to remind us how long it’s been since we’ve had a really good comedy.

Copyright ©2007 The New Sunday Express. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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72 thoughts on “Review: Taare Zameen Par / Welcome

  1. For me, the corelation you have drawn with Gulzar Saahib is the best thing in this review. Amazing. How do you even remember all this?

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  2. Hi Br,

    Outstanding review of TZP. After watching the first half, i was more than satisfied and was looking ahead for a more hard hitting second half. But somehow, i felt there was somethng missing. I guess,after reading ur review, I understand the missing factor. The first half concentrated on the kids emotions and the second half on the teachers. We missed the kid post interval. Dont know if I should mention it here, i cried during the entire first half and the second half jus left my eyes moist.Nevertheless, one of the most brilliantly written movies ever in Bollywood !

    Havent seen Welcome and so cant comment on it.

    Loved your writing !!!

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  3. TZP work so well for me at an emotional level that the discordant notes you mention didn’t bother me at all. I did wince at the ‘preaching’ to the father, and that sermonizing bit about how law guarantees equal education for all; I did feel that in the climax, Aamir Khan’s hair style and designerwear was completely at odds with the film as it aimed at propogating the image of Aamir the star; I also felt that the Maa song (though beutifully penned by Prasoon Joshi) was designed to tug at the heartstrings; I did feel that all the supporting characters (with the exception of the mother) were purposely written in a caricaturish manner….but, in my eyes they were no crime – mere peccadilloes. The good things in the movie far exceeded everything else.

    So, here we are excatly where we were with KKC. We observe almost the same things…while I say “YESSSSS”, you say “Maybe” (or is it still a yes?) ;)

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  4. brangan..TZP is a tale built assidiously from experiences that a few from the writing team had. In that, it has presented a hard to resist emotional fable. But, the over the top second half you have an issue with was a plot line to give a movie like this its Indian cinema ending!
    Yes, it became black and white, but on the other hand would an open ending or a question at the end get it the sweet tooth with the audiences?
    Apna Aasman, the movie you mentioned, did not pull in audiences. I own the DVD and it is a good movie but..????
    Commercially, a story where Nikumbh helps Ishaan conquer all had to be there in some form.
    In fact, maybe this is the cause of the creative fall out among the directors??

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  5. …And talking of Gulzar connections, don’t you think Prasoon Joshi’s poetry is heavily influenced by Gulzar (not only in this film, but otherwise as well – RDB for one). Kholo Kholo is replete with Gulzarian imagery.

    I mean it as a serious complement….It isn’t easy for anyone to write in Gulzar’s style.

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  6. Abrum: Knew you would :-)

    Lakshmi: It’s a strange thing, that junkyard in one’s mind. You never know what you’ll stumble over at any given instant.

    vimal: Thanks. I was sorta moist-eyed too in parts, though the emotions in the first half were truer than those in the second, which were just good, old fashioned manipulation.

    Aditya: Oh, it’s definitely a must-see. But having seen it, it’s a conditional yes. Happy now? :-)

    Indraneel: Oh, I completely agree about the commercial aspects, which I’ve mentioned. “if a big star can use his big clout to get big numbers of audiences to watch something they otherwise wouldn’t touch with the proverbial bargepole (case in point: Apna Asmaan), that alone is a completely valid reason for a movie’s existence.” Burt I’m not so sure about the “Indian cinema ending” you talk about. The multiplexes have changed the way stories can be told. I don’t see that excuse as being valid for the fact that, say, the mother literally vanished after a point. She’s learned that her son is dyslexic, and all she does is look up the subject on the Internet — from far, far away?

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  7. brangan..agree with the you on the mother bit, but conventionally mothers do tend to go into the background when the son steps out of “home”..sample movies from “Deewar to Eeshwar to Dacait to Anjali to Lagaan”..all the mothers did not have anything to do in the 2nd half except look towards the heavens!
    OK, Yes..Raakhee went mad in Dacait..nothing else..to go against the grain here is keeping her with the husband when dealing with the teacher..one has to write in gripping conversation!
    Well, after DCH and Lakshya where have I seen gripping conversation at all??
    That is why I said Indian movie endings..Yes, it could have been done better..but give it them, they have pushed the envelope here.
    Multiplex films..ah well..you know very well what passes off as good films these days.
    BTW the languid shot takings reminded me of Hrishikesh Mukherjee a lot!!..Anand!!!

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  8. about the ending:

    the ending shows that even when it is showed that ishaan has great painting skill still it must be proved that it really exists a competition proves that point!
    and of course we cannot tolerate mindless competition however it does not means that medocracy can be tolerated. the movie infact tell us that it is not important to be best in studies or academics but it is important to be best in whatever we chose to do.

    btw if you find my grammar a bit odd let me tell you something even i have a learning disabilty!!!

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  9. Baddy, I hadn’t heard TZP’s soundtrack yet…but I do have to check it out now, especially since you made references to Floyd!! :-) The best thing about Aamir’s movies (in the last few years) is that you know it won’t be a damp squib. It’s just like Kamal’s movies…there will be something in it that people can appreciate and enjoy.

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  10. “And speaking of Gulzar, is it he who coined the phrase “taare zameen par” thirty years ago, when he wrote the lyrics for Do deewane shehar mein in Gharonda?)”

    Thank you for bringing this up – I was beginning to think I was the only person on the planet who had made the connection.:-0

    Having borrowed from Gulzar the lyricist, here’s hoping that the movie is also inspired by, the far more talented and comprehensible, Gulzar -the filmmaker.:-)

    Yup, haven’t seen the movie yet, but wanted you check out your review.

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  11. BR,
    I apologize for the off-topic post, but I can’t find your Bombay Jayashri interview on the new site. It was a wonderful post and I was telling friends about it when I realized I couldn’t find it anymore. Sorry if I am missing something obvious.

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  12. Hey!
    I loved the movie a little more than you have, I guess. Maybe it’s because I see the father/mother (she’s just called Maa, she has no name in the movie) as representatives of the middle-class parent type. The Maa being unconditionally caring and understanding but it’s the father, a hardcore conformist of the system, believer in competition more than the sport itself. He stands for the mindset that is deeply ingrained in the middle-class: that marks and discipline and conforming to the system alone will fetch a career. Also fathers are generally the voice of reason in a family and mothers are emotional. I understand it’s a type again but films that want to create social awareness among a mass have no choice but to exploit these types to get the point across.
    I’ve reviewed it on my blog. I loved the movie. It pitches tent right between Bhansali (black) and Kukunoor (iqbal) schools of filmmaking and given that it is huge star like aamir doing this, it is by far the most exciting film Ive seen this year. Made your list of yearend Top 5 or Top 10. I have to sit down and think about the rest.

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  13. akshay: “it is important to be best in whatever we chose to do.” Actually, I saw the film more along the lines of asking us to stick to our strengths (in a matter of speaking)

    Shankar: Yeah, listen to The Wall again and listen to this album. Not in terms of “sound” as much as the whole concept of it all.

    Shalini: Gulzar -the filmmaker is more comprehensible? Next you’ll be arguing about how DARE he cross the optical and the olfactory in Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo :-)

    Om: It’s in the archives. Just search and ye shall find.

    Suderman: “films that want to create social awareness among a mass have no choice but to exploit these types to get the point across.” I don’t think anyone should make a film to deliver a message. If the message comes across while the story unfolds, fine. That was the case with Lagaan, a superb film that somehow told tons about “unity of spirit” and “teamwork” and “patriotism” without once directly talking about any of this in a messagey way. Even if you see the mother as “representatives of the middle-class parent type,” I’m not convinced she should be shut out of her son’s life to such an extent that she’s surprised at the marks he gets at the end.

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  14. not being the sore thumb or anything, but i think i heard that the title was suggested by Salman Khan… Can’t confirm it off the net (with a link) but still…
    but then again, i might be wrong…

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  15. BR, excellent review of TZP. Whatever you said is in my mind but I was not able to put it in words. And you have translated everyone of my impressions in a very nice way. I loved the paint drop falling on Ishan’s face and the dogs sleeping on his lap. And I also liked Aamir’s tears welling up on each of those occasions you mentioned though you seem to be little cynical about it. Wonderful job and it’s no wonder you received the National award for best reviewer!!

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  16. Seems it’s only me (at least on the internet) who has noticed that the word “Taare” is spelled wrong in the film’s title. It should be “Taarein”. Quite an obvious thing and I am a bit disappointed with those who know Hindi and don’t notice the wrong spelling. The way it’s spelled, it sounds like it’s written by a second grader. It’s very annoying whenever I read it. It belongs to the same category as spelling “later” as “latter” and gives the impression that someone doesn’t read any books and didn’t study much in school. Or they have just decided that spelling correctly is a waste of time. I expect better from a high profile film.

    On the other hand we can theorise that it was intentional because the film is about a kid who can’t spell properly but that isn’t being much obvious immediately on reading the title. And I suspect it’s not true anyway.

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  17. G: Ah, the master of the one-word dismissal :-)

    rbehemoth: Salman Khan, eh? BTW, my uncle pointed out an earlier instance of the title phrase in an Asha-Rafi song from Zameen Ke Taare, which goes “Oh mere pyaaron, zameen ke taaron…”

    Shoba: Thanks much. My problem wasn’t with Aamir’s tears as such. In another movie, I’d be sniffling away in a corner. (And the *thought* behind the tea-stall kid moment is a great one.) What bugged me was the effort to showcase Aamir as the only Mr. Sensitive in the whole wide world. In a film that was so understated earlier, these moments — these willfully manipulative moments that shift away from the child’s POV — stuck out like a sore thumb.

    had to say this: I sincerely hope that venting helped :-)

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  18. had to Say this: I am shocked. You rant about how Taare is spelled wrong everywhere and almost give a mini-sermon….but my dear friend, Taare is absolutely right. There is no such word as “Taarein”. The only time you would get a nasal end with taara will be when you use the word TaaroN as in “TaaroN ki jagmagahat” i.e. “of stars”

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  19. to add to my point…taarein would be the plural for the word taar, as in “bijli ki taarein”. Usually, the nasal plural is not used for words that end with “aa”. For example, taara = taare; bachcha = bacche. When the word doesn’t end with the long ‘aa’, the plural ncudes the nasal sound: raat = raatein, deewar = deewarein, taar = taarein

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  20. Saw the movie and loved it!

    I thought post-interval the movie stopped being about Ishaan and became more about his condition. Except for his entry, Ram Nikhumb is on screen and trying to do/thinking abou what he can to help Ishaan with his condition.

    Also, I think, the movie is from Ishaan’s point of view, when you are not academically inclined, most teachers are very rude and extremely cruel to you – (things have changed a bit for the better in some schools these days). In this environment, the one person who looks at things from your perspective is the only good person around.

    Ram Nikhumb had all reason to be extra-sensitive to the kids, he was treated the same way a few decades ago.

    I can see many mothers (real-life) who would go into the background and allow the fathers full control because they don’t have a solution to the problem at hand.

    On the other hand, the transformation of all the black characters at/after the art mela. By then though, the movie had won me and I guess I allowed whatever it is they needed to do to make more people watch it.

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  21. It tugs at your heartstrings. It makes you reach for the tissues.
    It makes you laugh. It makes you happy. And you go back home with a lesson for
    life. That’s the remarkable effect of Aamir Khan’s
    new film.
    Taare Zameen Par celebrates good cinema and at the same
    time, takes joy in rebelling against every prevailing idiom in the film
    industry. No flashy sets, no out-of-context songs, no item girls, no distracting
    side actors who come in to provide comic relief. TZP is a no-nonsense film that
    makes its way straight to your heart and also stimulates the mind.
    Taare Zameen Par isn’t loud and melodramatic. And yet, it manages
    to keep your tear glands working all through the film, during happy times and poignant
    moments. It’s a film that tries to take measured steps to make a fervent call
    for individualism in a society that trips on herd mentality . For a college student,
    this translates to opting for careers in engineering, medicine or management. For
    a primary school student, it’s about obtaining A+ grades in all the subjects,
    except art&craft, sports and other ‘extra curricular’ activities. The
    problem is precisely this. Streams like Art & Craft and sports are treated
    as ‘extra curricular’ when they are just as alive and kicking as any other career.
    In fact, there are more unemployed engineers, doctors and MBA-grads because of
    this herd mentality leading to a problem of plenty – too many professional
    graduates and too few jobs. If only, they had followed their heart and did what
    they do best, then they would have either pioneered a new idiom in employment
    or taken a job that’s least sought after but most fulfilling to them.
    This is the beauty of TZP. The film might be about a
    dyslexic child who sees mirror images of alphabets and thereby not distinguish an
    ‘L’ from a ‘7’. But what it teaches you is a lot more. It teaches the teachers
    that they she should stop treating their students as ‘kids’ and drown out the creativity
    lying un-used within them by refusing to recognise their individuality. Conformism
    is killing ‘free’ society. And it is this that is brought out oh-so-beautifully
    by art teacher Nikumbh (Aamir) and his third standard student Ishaan ( Darsheel
    Safary ) who has a face off with his incompetent father and an equally inept
    school of teachers. It takes a refined teacher like Nikumbh to recognise the
    inadequacies of Ishaan and help him fit into mainstream society. If not for Nikumbh,
    Ishaan would have been sent to a special school because of his dyslexia (something
    that the teachers misconstrued as a sign of him being a duffer and a no good
    wastrel). And that would mean the end of him and his fantasy world.
    Thank you, Aamir for taking us back into our childhood and
    making us aware of the child within us. Hopefully, this should prevent us from
    viewing the young ones as ‘just kids’ and actually try to understand them
    better and usher in a new brave world where individuality becomes the essence
    of living. Where every job gets equal importance, and where every creativity is
    given proper encouragement. These are indeed the real signs of human progress.
    Thankfully,
    with Taare Zameen Par, it has already begun

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  22. You’re right about the disappearance about the mom, but about the dad… Don’t you think Aamir got the boy’s unconditional love for his father just right? The mix of blind love (that somehow, I too have only for my parents) and fear. Somehow, this aspect of Ishaan’s character lent that much needed additional dimension to the dad’s caricature, even if he looked indifferent to that love.
    But yes, the Solomon Island speech was a tad patronising and immensely mean. And Aamir really didn’t need to cry at the Annual Day. Actually that whole sub-plot wasn’t even necessary. What’s the need to SHOW him teaching at Tulips? Or even being dyslexic himself.
    Ok, now I shall admit I loved every bit of it anyway.

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  23. Another review that concurred very aptly with my thoughts as the movie progressed. Though I must it the melodrama did draw me in a little more (not as much as my sister- I think the theatre must have needed a blow dryer of significant wattage to dry the deluge of ears she left behind.). One thing I felt was all of Ishaan’s painting was very indicative of a Van Gogh influence ( I think they even refer to him in the movie ) starting with that glorious painting of the “kuchi ice he sees the roadside vendor making. I wonder if van gogh was considered dyslexic as a child as well. But wonderful reviewing again.

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  24. meetu: “By then though, the movie had won me…” That happened to me at the interval point. I was primed for something truly great, so I guess I was a bit disappointed when it turned out merely “decent.”

    Zahid: “Taare Zameen Par isn’t loud and melodramatic.” It certainly isn’t loud, but there’s definitely melodrama in it — and that’s not an indictment or anything. (I’m saying this because “melodramatic” is often used as a pejorative adjective, when it’s just a “style” of making films.)

    Rohini: Awww, you saw this with Daddy :-) “Don’t you think Aamir got the boy’s unconditional love for his father just right?” That scene with strawberries was awesome. But didn’t that make it all the more terrible that after the life-altering sermon, the dad would *see* his kid, and yet shamefacedly turn away? Really!

    Deepauk: LOL about your sister… Thanks for sharing.

    hrishi: Just haven’t had the time, boss!

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  25. Hey Great review…but unfortunately for u my friend, most viewers in the world, be it in any language or country never disect a movie like this.for them if its a good experience over all then the movie is great. As simple as that.and i have seen in TZP’s case everyone in general is very much moved by the overall story n narration.
    I hope u will make a movie one day otherwise this is going to waste ur time writing reviews like this.No offence mate but its very easy to find faults in any piece of art,pity because if u know the mistakes before making it u never gona make it.I’m sure this movie is not the gretest of all time,but atleast it has touched many hearts.which is not a mean feet in times of ordinary filmaking.neways we dont find too many films where quality film making attracts applause from all kinds of audience.and that’s all i understand about filmmaking.Making a good film which is liked by the most.i don’t understand the difference between mass and class.if u make a good film it will be liked by all.
    i agree with all the wise guys here who have rightfully suggested faults in this film but u know, spare somethings in life,we get enough of films throuh out the year to criticise and curse.leave some good attempts.
    and by the way i dont know who classified audiences as main stream or else…i can understand if u classify viewrs according to the genre they like,but what is art cinema plz explain me…i strongly feel some filmakers have created this terminology just to hide the reasons why their films are not liked by most of the audience.

    again no offence to ur observations as they are fair enough(well most..)but again i judge a film by its overall quality n messege combined with how it affects the all important audience for whom films are being made not for few thoughtful geniuses…thats my own view n no offence made to anyone’s sensible sensibilty.Take Care n go easy mate.

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  26. Sir,
    Sorry for offtopic post.I am trying to find your interview of Bombay Jayshree but cant anymore.Can you point me to it?
    Thanks

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  27. @ Krunal
    So glad you already said what I came here to say…I was reffered to this page by a friend, after I wrote my ‘Review rip off’ post, ripping off another such negetive criticism by Raja Sen…

    When a movie like Taare Zameen Pe is delivered in this otherwise draught ridden industry of quality cinema…critics have a special responsibility to not misguide the audience…most dont remember that its fun to write and read negetive criticism so they cash on it…

    Personally I don’t even think we need critics really…come to think of it..its impossible to be judgemental about a piece of art..

    that there are some people who make a living out of criticisizing others since they were born with that special gift of cribbing…nothing in the world can please them…

    This review and the one by Raja Sen, these are like those bunch of people who stand around the tree in Solomon Islands…

    And am sure I’ll find more of this clan..

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  28. well if the job of a critic is not to find what is wright and what is wrong in a movie (even in the most touching one), what should he do then?

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  29. Okay, finally saw the movie and really liked it – maybe even loved it.

    My favorite part was undoubtedly the lovingly and meticulously created and evoked inner world of a child. IMHO, the movie almost achieved greatness in the first half. But unlike everyone else, TZP didn’t produce any epiphanies for me. I didn’t leave the theater and rush home to hug my sleeping 2.5 year old [mostly because I remembered what a struggle it was to get him to sleep in the first place:-)] and resolve to be a kinder, gentler Mommy. No, what TZP did for me was affirm something I’ve always known – my parents were/are awesome and gave me a ridiculously happy childhood.

    For reminding me that “bachapn ke din bhi kya din the,” I bow to Master Darsheel and Mr.Khan.

    PS. “Humne dekhi hai” is the sort of song a dyslexic, precocious 8-year old would write, no?:-))

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  30. @ Sanjukta, what a rant!! on your blog you write, “Am sorry but am not going to be very diplomatic here, not going to sugar quote my words, if I don’t like something i say it. Am aamir’s fan after all.”

    What does this imply? that you have the right to be speak your mind and the critics/ reviewers don’t? Or do you mean that if ‘you’ like a film, no one has the right to see its negative aspects. Or do you mean that since you’re an Aamir fan, every person on this earth should be, including the critics? Honestly, you seem more of a ‘fanatic’ than a’fan’.

    A film is a personal experience and every person, including critics, have the right to express what they take from the movie. Tell me how do you find this review ‘negative’ and misguiding? Read the byline as well as the last para of this review…isn’t that an endorsement of the film despite its flaws? Read the very first line of Raja Sen’s review? Does it sound like that it is meant to deter audiences from watching the movie.

    Most of us have a problem with film critics when our view does not match their’s. But why should it? A critic’s job is to see a film in it’s totality and present an ‘unbiased’ analysis of the film’s strong and weak points. why should they sugar-coat their words and ignore the negative just because a film is well-intentioned and deserves to be seen? The problem actually lies with people who make their movie-watching decisions based on these reviews.

    In your case it seems that you’re so worked up because this is an Aamir Khaan film. Don’t blame you. That’s what being a fan is all about. I for one get very worked up when someone calls Gulzar’s lyrics weird or Lata Mangeshkar’s voice (these days) shrill and shaky. I know that there are elements of truth in those statements but the fan in me refuses to accept that. But that doesn’t give me the right to debunk others’ views.

    Phew!!

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  31. it saddens me dat bolly critics has the audacity to even attempt analogize kamal to bolly actrs (wrst of all aamir)…kamal altho takes a center stage has been more cohesive to his characters..no star/actor from bolly cud hold a candle to that..

    from da review & comments frm thalaivar…we cud easily understand saar’s angst…after all a “Black” (wat a melodramatic manipulative mediocre film) fan…he doesnt have to target aamir this blatantly again…

    Ranganfan..;)

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  32. What does this imply? that you have the right to speak your mind and the critics/ reviewers don’t? Or do you mean that if ‘you’ like a film, no one has the right to see its negative aspects.

    Aditya: well said. This whole business of people attacking reviewers whose opinion of a film differs from their own reminds me of that old chestnut about a movie buff telling a reviewer to “be objective” – which is basically just another way of saying “agree with my subjective view of the film”.

    I find it especially amusing when Baradwaj is accused of being “born with that special gift of cribbing”, since he’s the most benevolent, genre-tolerant critic I know (I’m talking about intelligent reviewers who actually bother to engage with a film, not the ones who write 300-word press releases) – capable of finding something good to say about most films, rather than taking the easy way out and being sweepingly dismissive.

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  33. Krunal: “i judge a film by… how it affects the all important audience” And I judge a film by how it affects ME. Simple as that.

    Rahul/Om: It’s at http://www.desipundit.com/baradwajrangan/2006/09/17/interview-bombay-jayashri/

    Sanjukta: “misguide the audience?” Heck, I don’t even presume to *guide* them, in the first place.

    oops: “what should he do then?” Oh, please let me know when you find the answer :-)

    Aditya: So this is how you spent Christmas morning, eh? ;-)

    Rajfan: uh, okay…

    Jabberwock: “genre-tolerant”? I think you know better :-)

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  34. @Aditya

    The problem actually lies with people who make their movie-watching decisions based on these reviews.

    That’s a problem? I thought that’s one part of the critics role? the other part being to give a constructive feed back to the film maker for future reference. I really need to know the definition of a review, even before that I need to know what would the author like to call this piece on TZP. Is it a review / criticism / constructive criticism / a feedback / positive feedback / expert opinion OR just an article on the film more like personal thoughts. What is it?

    The piece is titled as “Review: Taare Zameen Par” and from the face of it seems to be an expert opinion, coz brangan says “Aamir generally goes overboard in his use of computer graphics elsewhere in the film” Does he? Really? And you must be the expert animator to make that judgment.

    I say, drop the ‘I know all act’, disclaim the piece as a review, then write whatever you feel like, I have no issues. But again, if, in spite of your disclaimer people follow you and lay their trust on you, then you must write responsibly. Time and again this copyrighted phrase needs to be repeated, “with great powers come greater responsibility”

    To answer few of your direct statements Aditya,

    Tell me how do you find this review ‘negative’ and misguiding?

    When the punch line of the review declares the movie is NOT entirely successful you think it’s very appealing for an ordinary cine goer? A flick that doesn’t have any other known face except Aamir, which on the face of it seems to be a serious movie with no song dance tree or romance and to top it all, it’s NOT entirely successful, would you want to spend Rs. 150 – 200 bucks on such a movie? And Raja Sen ended negatively (said the movie flounders in the end fatally)

    But you are right, I must confess, I am guilty of nitpicking myself, here and in my review rip off post, just as an example of what is not desirable.

    “that you have the right to be speak your mind and the critics/ reviewers don’t?”

    Yes because it probably doesn’t matter what I say, but it matters what a ‘reviewer’ say.

    I am not more worked up because its an AK film. I never had very high regards for people who criticize others for a living. Yes, I am putting more energy in writing and blogging because TZP is a commendable work by AK. I didn’t mind anything written on Fanaa or Mangal Pandey to be honest.

    @ Jabberwock

    So they are reviewers / critics and I am an attacker :)

    You attacked quite a few reviewer yourself on your blog btw, Nikhat Kazmi et all, for completely different reasons though, I do understand that.

    I have not read anything by brangan before so I wouldn’t know how benevolent he is. And please don’t tell me I need to read more of him before I form an opinion, coz just as a critic doesn’t bother to go behind the scenes to find out how much blood and sweat has gone into its making and happily dissects it movie instead, I won’t bother either to ‘understand’ the critic. This one review is what I read and my response also is to just this one post.

    @brangan
    What other purpose do you write a review for then? You write a lot of them as I understand.

    Double Phew!!

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  35. Sanjukta: cool.
    Go back and search for and read rangan’s take on Munnabhai MBBS. I was honestly shocked to see he didn’t recognize it as an instant classic. ;-)

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  36. What I meant to say was that he is such a big softie, that when a movie works too well for him, he will go back to see and condemn exactly how he was manipulated. :-)

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  37. G: Still not seeing the connection between the Munnabhai review (a film I had hardly any problems with) and this one. Maybe you need to unleash another “What I meant to say was that…” :-)

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  38. Years ago in the good old days of Door Darshan, I remember a small social initiative film for ‘Rashtra Saakshartaa Mission’ (National Literacy.)

    The film had the late Manohar Singh educating his young domestic help, thereby giving him the confidence to approach life.

    ‘Purab se surya ugaa, phailaa ujiyaara. Jaagi har disha disha, jaaga jag saara’ was its refrain.

    TZP echoed the same sentiments for me.

    I don’t care if it was manipulative. I don’t care if it at points eschewed art for commerce.

    All I care for is that films sometimes need to take an audience through a looking glass. And TZP does that most effectively.

    And on a more selfish note, if Darsheel Safary is not nominated for Best Actor at the Filmfare Awards and Rani Mukherjee is for LCMD, I’d give up watching Hindi films forever.

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  39. As you wish. :)

    I have yet to see TZP so unfortunately I still can’t comment on your review per se.

    1 From your Munnabhai review: conceal the fact that ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ is just another entry in the ‘Khoobsoorat’ genre.

    Since when did films become just another entry in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee school of filmmaking? :-)

    2. This abundance of mirth, obviously better seen than written about,
    makes it difficult to digest the occasional dips into
    ultra-seriousness – especially the parts with Jimmy Shergill
    (touchingly playing a patient with a serious condition) – but you
    simply move on to the next inspired moment,

    3. Your comments against the moppet with cancer sub-plot in Cheeni Kum.

    Balki never intended you to sniffle about her poor fate. He brought “sexy” in to
    a) give Ghass-Phoos some much needed characterization
    b) to set up the point he made against “mannats” in the Qutub Minar climax.

    Similiarly, Shergill was brought in to make a sensible resolution to the central conceit of the movie – despite all the mirth and fun, Hirani and his team had too much respect for real doctors to allow Sanju’s Tapori to cheat his way to a doctor’s degree. Munna himself needed to abandon that course. Hence the Shergill subplot.

    All these are obvious occasions when you violently disengaged yourself from the movie-watching protocol and refused to surrender to “too obvious” manipulations. By protesting too much and not waiting and watching to see where the story was going, you perhaps missed out on some good movie watching experience. :-)

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  40. P.S. When you say “just another Khoobsurat clone”, that’s nothing but you rationalizing that the film-maker is trying to manipulate you with formula No KST. :-)

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  41. You attacked quite a few reviewer yourself on your blog btw, Nikhat Kazmi et all, for completely different reasons though, I do understand that.

    Sanjukta: glad you understand that (though in that case, I’m not sure why you feel the need to bring it up at all). I should think there’s a self-evident difference between 1) “attacking” a reviewer for basically lifting a whole review written by someone else and publishing it under her own name, and 2) attacking a nuanced, carefully written original review that has provided an honest perspective on a film, simply because your overall assessment of the film differed from the reviewer’s.

    I don’t want to get into a big argument or anything, because (from a purely idealistic-but-impractical perspective) I do get a few of the points you’re making – the “with great powers come great responsibility” bit, etc. But maybe you’re overestimating the importance of a reviewer (and therefore overstating his or her “responsibilities”). At any rate, Baradwaj’s only responsibility is to watch the film and then, as honestly as possible, articulate his own views on it. There can’t be one definitive opinion about any film anyway. It’s entirely possible, for instance, that some very knowledgeable experts watch TZP and think it’s a completely sappy, mediocre film. The only test of their review is whether they’ve presented their arguments in a well-reasoned, articulate way.

    And you’re right, you do need to know the definition of a review (as provided by honest reviewers who know what a personal thing reviewing is, not people who claim to have some sort of summary, “expert” insight into whether a film is Good, Bad or Mediocre). A sincere suggestion: do read some of Pauline Kael’s thoughts on reviewing – you’ll find them in the prologues of her compilations, like For Keeps and I Lost it at the Movies.

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  42. I am going to watch TPZ on New Year’s Eve. Glad I have been forewarned – I’ll go armed a big pack of tissues.

    You know what, I see this pattern in your reviews. I think you hold the “better” movies to higher standards of judgement than the “bad/so-so” ones, and so end up saying nice things about movies that the rest of the world trashes, and talk of flaws in films that are elsewhere unequivocally praised. Ditto for responses in your comment space: you are much kinder to those who attack you than those who defend you :) [Phew, I could make a career out of pop psych...]

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  43. G: Thanks for the analysis, though what I meant by that Khoobsoorat remark was that the basic template (of the two stories only, not any “school of filmmaking”, as you imply) is the same and what makes this movie different is all these things. “Balki never intended you to sniffle about her poor fate.” And you know this for a fact? :-) It’s all interpretation boss, and I’m happy it worked for you, but it didn’t for me, and hence my review. But I’m glad you brought up Cheeni Kum, because that was another film where I found the non-Bollywoodness of the first half at odds with the more obvious attempts at manipulation in the second. I have no issues with melodramas per se, but I begin to chafe when the emotional temperature of a film suddenly changes. As for “missed out on some good movie watching experience”: my overall, flaws-and-all sense of CK and of TZP was a positive one, and I’m afraid that doesn’t seem to have come across in either review. Ah, well.

    Jabberwock: “But maybe you’re overestimating the importance of a reviewer (and therefore overstating his or her “responsibilities”).” Thanks for bringing this up. I swear, if only my editor would go for it, I’d stop calling these pieces “Reviews” and instead label them “My own, personal point of view (not to be intended as an endorsement for/against the film; any unintended aftereffects are not the responsibility of the reviewer” :-)

    Shuchi: I don’t know. I genuinely found Aaja Nachle “entertaining”, Saawariya “interesting”, No Smoking “revelatory” and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom “fun”. So I’m not sure how else I’d have written those reviews. (I chose these films because these were panned almost everywhere else.) But thanks for the free session :-) And on a general note, after I re-read the review, I caught this line: “considering that he gives us a great first half and an intermittently interesting latter half, Taare Zameen Par should go down as a success for Aamir Khan” How much more emphatic about the worthiness of a film can I be? I wonder if that had been the intro/byline/whatever, if this reviews tone would seem different. Hmmm…

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  44. Baradwaj: I think you’ll find (actually I think you’ve already found, going by some of the comments you’ve received in recent weeks) that now that the words “National Award winning critic” precede your name, people will be much more inclined to remind you of your “responsibilities” and generally accuse you of being a “know-all”. It comes with the territory. Suddenly you’re no longer just a newspaper/blog reviewer, you’re a spokesman – you’re expected to echo the thoughts of the majority of movie-watchers, instead of honestly expressing your own. That’s unfortunate, but I hope you won’t let it affect you too much.

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  45. Um, I meant more like Apne/Vivaah vs. TPZ/CDI. Your reviews dwell longer on a film’s flaws if you have actually thought the film worthy, but go easier on films that don’t aspire too high. And to clarify, that is something I actually like about your reviews – they kind of balance things out!

    By the way, I found Aaja Nachle “entertaining” and Saawariya “interesting” too (though “No Smoking” went way over my head :|).

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  46. Fair enough, but melodrama is such an engrained part of indian films that it takes something at the
    “Hum Aapke hain koun” level to make me gag. Otherwise I don’t even notice its presence.

    Take yesterday for example. There I was, cheerfully watching the beginning portion of Yaarana on Sony, thinking how Amitabh Sosooo needs to point out the huge contributions made to his career by K A Abass, Mehmood, Salim-Javed and Amjad Khan etc when my wife commented about what a lame movie this was and that the friendship protrayed between Amitabh’s and Amjad’s characters was just so unrealistic!

    Absolutely true for what it was worth but I sure wouldn’t think of any other way to set up the fun and goofy coolness of the flashing/dancing Amitabh yet to come!

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  47. Sanjukta, I appreciate the responsibilities of a film critic/ reviewer. In my own blog I have written:

    “Film critics have a huge responsibility because sometimes what they write can make or break a film. Big films have enough marketing muscle to push their films to the realms of success and are hence less dependent on what film critics have to say, but relatively smaller filmmakers sometimes need favorable reviews for their films to be seen. And if critics trash those films, they better have a solid reason for doing so!”

    Having said that, I can’t think of many Hindi films where bad reviews can be blamed for the films’ failure. I think we give way too much importance to the power of a reviewer. In most cases people depend more on the feedback from their freinds and family when they make their movie-watching decisions.

    And those who make movie-watching decisions based on prefessional film reviews, would have read enough reviews to understand reviewers are more suited to their tastes, and an odd Rangan here or a Raja Sen there would not alter their decisions anyway.

    I was taking exception to what you implied in your post i.e. that reviewers should gloss over the flaws of a well-intentioned, good quality film just because it’s their responsibility. I would say that’s being dishonest and that’s what majority of the reviewers in India do anyway.(and that is why I feel that the quality of film criticism in India is abysmally low)

    This reviewer doesn’t trash TZP, but sees its faults and presents them in a well-analyzed manner.

    And yes, as Jabberwocker mentions, Pauline Kael books are absolutely wonderful.

    If you would like to conitnue this debate, let’s do it either on your blog or mine.

    http://urgetofly.blogspirit.com/archive/2007/04/22/film-criticism.html

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  48. “considering that he gives us a great first half and an intermittently interesting latter half, Taare Zameen Par should go down as a success for Amir Khan” Can’t you see what’s wrong with the tone? you don’t seem to suggest at all that you enjoyed the film. ” should go down as a success for Amir Khan’? That’s how Taran Adarsh writes his reviews. ” It should be a multiplex hit” or whatever. You don’t have to worry whether it “should” go down as a success for Amir Kahn or not. you just tell us how you liked it. And in your Saawariya interview you said ‘I haven’t yet decided whether you like the film or not.’ Have you decided by now. If I may offer my opinion on this is the problem you face when you see the film as a critic than as just a film lover. You watch a film too much with your head and too little with your heart. That is why you can find “Saawariya’ interesting and Jhomm Barabar Jhoom’ ‘fun’. These films might have had some possibilities. But in the shape that they were offered to us they were crap. If a reviewer hems and haws and fails to point this out then I lose all interest in that kind of a review. That is when you fail to recognise a classic like Munnabhai or Taare Zameen trying to be so clever and all. And you stop from denouncing movies like Black and Saawariya, which I think goes to the heads of people like Bhansali, which does more harm than good to them. Little more letting go, a little less cynicism will make your reviews more like good art rather than boring academic tracts. The difference between the two is ‘emotional warmth’.

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  49. @ brangan
    Krunal says: “i judge a film by… how it affects the all important audience” brangan says: And I judge a film by how it affects ME. Simple as that.

    So u think that u r not the part of the audience…see that’s where the problem lies my friend.u feel ur above them… but when u direct a film u cant think like that as its not a charity. at the end of the day its business.

    I know the film should be a quality one but what if it qualifies in a good standard of quality n loved by all kinds of audience n still u find loopholes everywhere.

    N bye the way if u think the review is ur own point of view and perception.. well then why criticize mate it’s a director’s point of view…i find it quite amusing…..
    n again this is my point of view so dont take it personal.n Take care mate.

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  50. n bye the way plz someone explain me the difference between art cinema n main stream cinema as this reviewer classifies…What is Main stream audience….?????

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  51. Utkal: Thank you for those thoughts — but unless there is some way to arrive at a consensus about a film and unless reviewers are asked to abide by that consensus, I don’t see how something YOU dismiss as “crap” should be deemed the same by ME.

    Krunal: I wouldn’t say I’m finding “loopholes” in the film, for that points to there being — for sure — some TANGIBLE deficiencies in it. And the way most people have viewed TZP, it appears to be a flat-out masterpiece. All I’m trying to do, really, is explain why I had the reactions to the film that I did.

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  52. it may be difficult to reconcile with, rangan, but it is a fact that teachers today, in our country, fall way below expected standards. and the irony of it is, they keep going about doing theire things, thinking they’re actually doing a good job. i am not sure who is to be blamed – the poor pay they get (they work hard, no doubting that), the lack of good training and education that they themselves go through, or the mere attitude of staying content with mediocrity that has hit just about every section of our society.

    i have not watched the movie, but noticed that you’ve given it a fairly decent appraisal. sudhish kamat, who otherwise cribs about just about every movies he seems to review, has literally raved about it in the hindu today.

    thank you.

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  53. u say that the movie changes tracks completely in the second half, i wud like to add further that it is a different story completely in the second half. the first half is the adults world thru the eyes of a disconcerning child, the second half is a child’s world thru the eyes of a concerned adult. you wanted the second half to be centered on ishaan too and the teacher just have a small part, but wudnt that be a completely different movie? this is the movie aamir khan decided to make, and that doesnt mean it is any bad, its just isnt the movie u wanted or expected to see. also i’m a teen and i dont thnk the teachers were carcicatures, i’ve seen such ones all my life. nikumbh character need time bcos it had to be shown that this is a man who just loves children, but cant understand n is frustrated that the worlds like this, probably bcos he faced sumthng similar wen he was a child.

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  54. Baradwaj – I enjoyed your review, as always. I completely agreed with your opinion that Aamir should’ve left the role to some other actor (we contemplated who could’ve done the role well and names that came up were Shreyas Talpade and Madhavan). The second half was preachy and could’ve done with editing – and I also wondered why he had to take the child almost to a stage of catatonia before the rescue mission began. It made the story dark and oppressive – my young son was visibly traumatized by the “bullying” (his words) by the adults and the other children and visibly relieved when the clowning began. Surely someone in the school would’ve seen his withdrawal and alienation. The Solomon Island lecture was patronizing and the parents not reaching out to their son when they finally find out what the problem is, was a huge lacuna. I can’t visualize a mother staying home and seeing home videos and not telling her boy that “it’s not your fault, it’s ours”. I suppose the preaching was necessary to reinforce the social action theme, but the exclusion of the parents was self-indulgent – allowing AK to emerge as the hero who has solved it all to the wide and admiring eyes of all. Voila – one cured “lovely” child. Surely the same could’ve been achieved with some inputs from contrite and remorseful parents?

    PS: I came home and re-read some Calvin – and some William too – and wondered if these too were portrayals of dyslexic children – creative, zany and bad at literacy and numeracy.

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  55. dharmabum: I agree with what you say about teachers, but the blac-and-white dramatic license taken in this film seemed at odds with the dreamy, shades-of-grey nature of the earlier portions. My main trouble was that I couldn’t reconcile with the shift in tone. And thanks.

    mkdeshmukh: “you wanted the second half to be centered on ishaan too and the teacher just have a small part” No. I would have liked to see the teacher in conjunction with the others around the child. With that child Rajan, with his parents, and so on… I would have liked it if the “curing” didn’t get over in just a song. Having taken a leisurely first half to spell out the problem, couldn’t they show us a little more about how Ishaan copes with the “solution”? BTW, check out this review by Variety – http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117935724.html?categoryid=31&cs=1&query=taare

    Radhika: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. “Surely someone in the school would’ve seen his withdrawal and alienation” Absolutely. In a general masala movie (or in an exaggerated melodrama like Black), such things don’t matter at all — in those cases, it’s not about keeping it “real.” Here, I felt, AK could have reined in the fantasy elements in the latter half. Shreyas Talpade — now that’s a thought. “I also wondered why he had to take the child almost to a stage of catatonia before the rescue mission began.” That makes him more of a rescuer, right? More drama. You said it yourself: “allowing AK to emerge as the hero who has solved it all to the wide and admiring eyes of all.” :-) I wonder what TZP would have been like if *that* had been the dominant tone of the film. I’m sure Aamir could have pulled it off.

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  56. My heartfelt condolence that you have to suffer such tripe. In the spirit of charity for the film let me relate the scene I liked from the film before finally not being able to suffer it anymore. It was when a Municipal Officer or someone comes to demolish the mafia boss’ property and his henchmen first pose as if they are going to actually happily assist him in his endeavour but instead they beat him and his demolition staff up with him crying “Main illegal nahin hoon, yeh building illegal hai. Fir mujhe kyun toda”.

    In fact there was another scene where Nana Patekar who’s scared of horses jumps down from a galloping horse in hurry and falls on his knees in front of his lady love’s father when he’s supposed to gracefully dismount it and ask for the hand of his lady love during the shooting of a film.

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  57. I was talking about the film “Welcome” of course. Can’t say about Taarein Zameen Par. Yet to watch it :)

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  58. I would have liked it if the “curing” didn’t get over in just a song. Having taken a leisurely first half to spell out the problem, couldn’t they show us a little more about how Ishaan copes with the “solution”?

    Dont there journeys from Panchgani to Mumbai(for Nikhumb) and the reverse journey for Ishaan serve as a metaphor for this?Nikhumbh is shown taking the longer(reverse) route,as he sees a reflection of his own self in Ishaan,and Ishaan is transported straight from umbai to Panchgani.Doesnt this symbolise that Nikhumbh having taken the longer route knows what has to be done,and the cure is possible as opposed to having the need of showing how difficult it actually is?
    A word on the caricaturish teachers-
    Since the past couple of years, Aamir has twice spoken about Calvin and Hobbes being one of his favourite cartoons. Recently he told an HT interviewer that he has a big collection of C&H books.He once told Filmfare that he identifies a bit with Calvin,’though I suppose I should be more like Hobbes’.And Calvin, as far as I remember, is a kid who sees adults as ogres—that is the view presented to the reader. I feel that C&H influence is there in the film.

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  59. @ Radhika,

    I remember I was at an NDTV debate once, topic being 33% reservation in the parliament for women. Every body was talking all sort of things, pros, cons, facts figures, rights duties equality etc.

    All of a sudden some one stood up and said I have a question. Why 33%? Why not 23, 43, 53 and so on…why 33%???

    When you say why Aamir plays Nikumbh, why not Talpade or Madhavan… I feel the same way I felt at that man’s question.

    Madhavan and Talpade…really? So now these actors are more worthy of a role than Aamir??? They would have done more justice to the role? Man I don’t even have words to express how shocked I am at the proposal..

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  60. Sanjukta, your fanship of Aamir is very touching.

    << So now these actors are more worthy of a role than Aamir?
    No, I didn’t say that. This role, yes, but not any role. I think I liked Aamir in Sarfarosh, for one. OTOH, I also believe he would not have quite suited Iqbal. As far as TZP is concerned, I think that sticking to directing and avoiding acting might have allowed another actor to flesh out a more credible ending.

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  61. Rangan…Awesome review as usual. Just saw the movie and immediately came to see your review at once ! The movie definitely worked…as an ex boarding school lad myself, i could relate to all the happenings around the vicinity and it did evoke certain memories not all fond. Am glad the Aamir actually asserted himself more and it does seem logical as well…dyslexia isnt somthing that one can conquer only through personal action, there needs to be a progenitor and Aamir is tht – makes it logical as well. In the end i absolutely loved the piece and if a star can propel a product like Aamir did here in order to raise awareness, it definitely is commendable. And exactly as you mentioned…the penchant for getting the small slices right was bang on !

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  62. I was delighted to see your reference to Pink Floyd. That’s something I’d thought of myself, while listening to the music, and I don’t even know much of Floyd.

    Brilliant review, by the way! Now I’m going to dive into your archives!

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  63. Ok so I watched Taare Zaamein par. My opinion is that this movie is an instant classic. It should be in the documentary for these kind of children and I have a sister who has these symptoms and I din’t feel anythign different that has been shown in this movie compared to my sisters life, she is even fighting and struggling and about the second half of the movie as aamir khan being the mainpoint, He wasn’t another angel like sharukh khan in main hoon na or kal ho naa ho, I mean these movies are entertaining but are unrealistic. He was just a teacher who was just tryin to help a student so yeah he should have some soptlight because he has a character to play and always the spotlight can’t be at one character. Yh ther might be some things missing and some mistake in the movie but the important point is did u have any feelings for the movie..Did the mvoie justify ur feelings. Did it paas thru any message and yes I can confidently say yes it did. Parents should show more love and affection towards there children and make them feel no matter whatever happens we are gonna be with you.

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  64. would be nice if you’d incorporate a star rating for your movie reviews, song album reviews. its a quick and easy way for people to pick a movie based on your review now that you have quite a bit of credibility as a reviewer
    -usb

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  65. Hey Baradwaj sir…tragic news that Sujatha Sir has passed away…..a huge void that Indian cinema is left ….where would we get nippy conversations,superstar dialogues,evocative poetry,rivetting screenplay..and lots of quality from now….?

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