Sunday, January 20, 2008

Movie Review: Taare Zameen Par

There is a moment where Mr. Avasthi, the father of the boy, comes to meet Amir Khan to show-off that he cares about the kid. This is a beautiful moment and a highlight of the movie. Khan replies in a calm way and redefines for the parent what 'taking care' actually means. I wish they had ended the movie there. It had made its point very effectively right there. After that point the movie was indulging in needless posturing and it actually trivialized stuff through an unreal illustration. That and Amir Khan's introduction song was completely unnecessary and annoying.

Having said that, this is a splendid movie. Not-a-dry-eye-in-the-house stuff. That gap between Amir Khan and rest of Bollywood is as wide as the gap between Kamal Hasan and rest of Thamizh movies. Both have developed either the ability or the reputation to make viewers, who are used to masala, to somehow adjust their radars and receive an odd artsy movie. Some good movies make an interesting argument with the viewer whereas some good movies make a readily acceptable argument, which get the viewers buy-in immediately. This movie belongs to the latter category and populates the journey with interesting events to engage viewer attention. I thought empathy was the reason why I and many others liked this movie. Even though the boy had a condition very few could relate to, the movie decides to show aspects of the boy that the audience can empathize with.

Moms would be impressed because Mrs Avasthi is a relatable person. Most moms tend to believe that they have been there. Anybody who has been a kid would relate to Ishanth because - portions of his behavior that most kids will empathize with has been carefully chosen and depicted. My parents and Oz Dude's parents decided to kick us out of house and put us in a hostel 1000 kms away in Madras. Hostel life in secondary/senior school years is annoying. It was easy to assume my world had crumbled and that gave me a reason to be perennially teary eyed after I watched the taxi leave the school gate with my parents in it. Unlike this movie, my hostel didn't let people outside school campus. I'd keep watching the road and talking to the watchman until the dinner bell rang. Made sure every south-bound Nellai express would carry a letter from me to my parents. The eyes though not crying would be filled to brim with tears - all the time. While I immersed myself in chocolates to forget the homesickness, OzDude believed that putting some special leaves into a well would bring his parents back soon. No wonder we both decided to suck in academics at that time.

I have to say Amir Khan has captured details that were immensely enjoyable. The amazing details that Amir Khan brings are actually relatable obvious things but nobody has captured them with so much clarity. The teary-eyed hostel boy, the useless-boy who always stands out in class. We've been there or at least seen that. He has even captured the hostel-style receiving-phone-calls-from-home thingie (parents call, arbitrary person picks up, asks them to call back in 10 minutes, informs you if he sees you within 10 minutes) . This movie is Manirathnam's Anjali (which is my favorite Mani movie) minus the noise with emphasis on the kid instead of the mother. The dyslexia part was 'okay' but that wasn't why I liked the movie and I ended up thinking less about that aspect than the other parts of the movie. For people who are now using the word 'dyslexia' in every other sentence because of this movie - I only hope that this movie doesn't lead parents or dyslexic kids to search for that earth shattering non-academic talent to justify or validate their self-esteem/existence. Being dyslexic and unexceptional would have been a better, more realistic ending.

15 comments:

Destination Infinity said...

Manirathnam's Anjali and of recent movies - Prakashraj's Mozhi are my favorite films. The ending of TZP was quite filmy when compared to movies like Anjali. But both the movies succeed in making ppl realize that the specially abled people are one amongst us. Glad to see Bollywood producing some nice movies last year. Jab We Met would have been a top-notch exquisite movie, had it ended in the interval itself. The second half was totally unwarranted.

Destination Infinity.

maxdavinci said...

interesting, always a pleasure to hop by your blog!

Babu said...

the leaf shd not fall on the grnd as it withers from the tree due soft breeze....u catch'em and take'em carefully to the lucky well and see them fall on the water and causing from ripples...more ripples the faster ur folks come to pick u for school hols......
:-D

Anonymous said...

"The ending of TZP was quite filmy when compared to movies like Anjali"

Anjali had a fight sequence in the end :)

Venkat said...

hate to nitpick on such a fine review,but :
I was shocked to read ....

"That gap between Amir Khan and rest of Bollywood is as wide as the gap between Kamal Hasan and rest of Thamizh movies."

until I read this in the next line ::

"Both have developed either the ability or the reputation to make viewers, who are used to masala, to somehow adjust their radars and receive an odd artsy movie."

Very true..., Kamal pioneered the concept of the artsy vs. masala intersperse. But the widely regarded stand that he 'towers' over the rest of Tamizh cinema is something I completely disagree with..

But maybe we should discuss that on a different day and place.

Haven't seen TZP yet, but I will now..

Anonymous said...

The difference b/w kamal movies & aamir movies :a layman can understand & relate to aamir's different attempts,but he CANNOT try to understand kamal's 'serious'
phillums..
Please don't read that note as sarcastic:-)
gud review hawkeye

Sarang said...

@hawkeye
I liked most of what you have written and agree to it as well. Regarding Kamal for tamizh vis-a-vis Aamir for hindi cinema seemed too drastic a comparison. Agreed that they are 'apart' from the mainstream but they are as dependent and stuck to the mainstream as everyone else...

@destination...
I believe Anjali's ending is as filmy as it can get. Personally, I think Mani gets filmy almost everytime e makes a movie. The extent of the filmy-ness veries. My favourite movie of Mani and kids is Kannaththil than Anjali...
Also, I thought Jab We Met was total waste of time 1st half or 2nd.....

Balaji said...

haven't seen the film but the last line(hope it doesn't make parents of dyslexic kids search for some exceptional talent in their kids) was nicely written. a friend told me of another review where the reviewer heard a mom tell her kid "u too should paint like that kid and win the competition" when walking out of the movie. kinda emphasizes ur point :)

Sudha Rangarajan said...

Agree with msot of what you said about TZP. That it stands oit not becasue the subject is dyslexia, but because the details have been sufficiently taken care of. The cinematic end s a total spoilsport as it takes away the charm of a realistic movie. You summed it up very well when you said 'Being dyslexic and unexceptional' would have made this exceptional !!!

Hawkeye said...

destination,

anjali provided fantastic joy to school going kids. thoroughly entertaining. i wasnt quite sure if oldies enjoyed it.

max,

danks

babs,

:-)...and the harder the legs of the warden breaks and the faster he rushes to puthur etc etc :-)

anon,

irunthaalum anjali super. poornam viswanathan gave it the necessary realistic touches :-)

venkat,

well i didn't like some of his masala ventures. his artsy movies stand tall.

anon,

danks.

sarang,

agreed. i never said kamal or amir werent wedded to mainstream.

balaji,

thanks. i am looking forward to your review of this. I never miss your reviews.

sudha,

thanks. the last 30 minutes were dissapointing.

Taurus said...

..."That gap between Amir Khan and rest of Bollywood is as wide as the gap between Kamal Hasan and rest of Thamizh movies."

oh just for this comment i so likey you :)

Anonymous said...

aamir flicked this whole project frm amole gupte..like hw kamal flicks frm different sources..nice sishyan fr kamal..btw,i think aamir is nt even worth mentioning alongside kamal..i dont think he can even think of making or writing films lik hey ram or virumandi..only mild halfbaked films like rdb or very userfriendly tzp..nothing revolutionary lik wat kamal does..though i dont like kamal..i will give him that much..

Anando said...

Why such a fuss over the ending being out of the ordinary n cinematic ??? wake up ppl n look at the world you live in !

a realistic ending would have made this an art film and in India, sadly there are very few takers of such stuff !!

putting a filmy happy ending and getting more audience to make money is much better than being uninspiring to other film makers in this direction by exemplifying a waste of so much great effort in an economically unsuccessful movie.

I think Aamir did it right n maybe more ppl are thinking of making such stuff now !

Anando said...

Why such a fuss over the ending being out of the ordinary n cinematic ??? wake up ppl n look at the world you live in !

a realistic ending would have made this an art film and in India, sadly there are very few takers of such stuff !!

putting a filmy happy ending and getting more audience to make money is much better than being uninspiring to other film makers in this direction by exemplifying a waste of so much great effort in an economically unsuccessful movie.

I think Aamir did it right n maybe more ppl are thinking of making such stuff now !

Anando said...

srry 4 dbl post, pls remove :)