Taare Zameen Par

We finally managed to go see TZP this weekend - our outing to the movie last weekend was foiled by some wannabe-famous who planted a bomb threat about the Gurgaon malls...And I have to admit, I had some doubts in my mind about the film and how it would do and what it would be like - apart from many other reasons, because AK is my favourite actor and I wanted it to succeed - but also because the theme of the film was different and I wanted to see how it was handled. Kids in Bollywood films are usually obnoxious ( remember 'Sexy' in Cheeni Kum?) and this film revolved around a child, that too one with a learning disability. Would it be OTT emotional? Would it be OTT melodramatic a la Black (Yeesh!)?

Refreshingly and reassuringly, it was none of the above. It was a simple story, simply told. No OD of glycerine. But quietly emotional and so genuinely moving...I had never understood Dyslexia in so much detail before, and realised how harrowing it must be only when I saw the film - I had earlier thought it was merely a difficulty with reading and writing. The acting level was amazing - quiet yet genuine, subtle...the scene when the parents are driving off from the boarding school is haunting. I defy anyone to stay dry-eyed through it. The hero of the film - Darsheel Safary - was incredible. He turned in a very mature performance, without any false notes. And the credit goes as much to the director as the actor.

Initially we thought that some of the teachers became stock characters. Yet later, after the movie, A and I were both remembering teachers in our schools who behaved in similar ways. And certainly, to most people, the only way to deal with what seems like either a stupid child or one who is deliberately rebelling is through sarcasm or scolding. I wish out teachers were educated more, not about maths and English but about child psychology, how to teach, how to help children bring out their innate potential...

I hadn't really gotten into the music when I bought the album, but after watching the film, it resonated much more. The 'Maa' song is haunting, again. The title song is beautiful. But the 2nd song on the album, "Tu dhoop hai..." is rousing, like an anthem. The lyrics are incredibly powerful and the music has been designed with a light touch - just enough, not a note more or less. I was amazed by Vishal Dadlani's singing - the variation between a rock-ey sound and a ghazal...

Most of all, I was thrilled by Aamir Khan's performance as director and actor. He was so true to the story and its need to be unfolded in a certain way. Which other actor could you imagine, in a home production, not appearing until the intermission? Aamir was just one of the characters in the film, like the parents of the boy or the other teachers, and generously gave the centrestage to Darsheel. The was a spareness to the story-telling not often seen in Bollywood - no unnecessary romantic angle to Aamir's character, no melodrama...just a quiet, sensitive film that touches the heart of anyone who happens to be a parent.

And such a simple little message really. To celebrate each individual, each child for who he or she is. To celebrate the differences which, after all, is what makes life interesting. To love children and show that love openly, regardless of how they fare in the face of all the competition and expectations they face...I am a touchy-feely parent but hugged my kids even more all weekend after the movie...

If there is one film you watch at the beginning of the new year, which will give you some insights about life and about being a parent or a teacher, let it be this one...

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