Wednesday, October 05, 2011
#212: Taare Zameen Par
Much of the pre-release talk about TZP was related to the rancor between the writer and supposed director Amole Gupte and Aamir Khan. It was said that Aamir saw clear differences in the way he wanted the subject treated and the way Gupte wanted the film to emerge. Being the producer, Aamir Khan eventually had his way and became a director while Gupte was credited as the writer and creative director. We don't know what was the final straw that broke the back of that relationship but what it does tell us is how these two men so dearly felt about the film and that it was a subject that neither wanted to let go off creatively. We will never know how Gupte might've treated it but we do know that he would've had a near impossible task to better what Aamir finally did with Taare Zameen Par.
TZP's story in one line can be put down to life as experienced by an 8-year old dyslexic child. It takes us through the fears, insecurities, travails and moments of happiness for a boy called Ishaan (Darsheel Safary). He lives in a world of his own where numbers and letters of the alphabet don't make any sense to him. Instead, colors and drawings have a special import to his existence. This particular characterization is brought out most convincingly in the first half and the song "Mera Jahaan" captures it most effectively. Darsheel Safary plays the innocent and everybody's butt-of-jokes Ishaan commendably. Its the kind of performance that will evoke empathy in even in a stone. In a rare occurrence, a star of Aamir Khan's stature comes billed second in the credits and makes an appearance only once half the movie is over. Aamir's act as the selfless teacher Nikumbh is typically assured and near perfect. Supporting acts by Ishaan's parents, teachers and his sole friend Tanay Chheda all merge in seamlessly within the main storyline. A cameo by Bugs Bhargava as the English teacher is the one that's most memorable.
We see a combination of good old-school photography combined with the slick by DOP Setu. Shankar Ehsaan Loy's music builds an apt mood of impending depression in the first half and the movie finds itself capitalizing on a fine musical denouement in the climax. In fact, on the director's commentary in the DVD there is a mention of how no one agreed with Aamir's point of view on the song that was to go in the final scene and yet when you see the movie, this is one scene that is guaranteed to give you a lump in your throat. I don't know anyone who said that he or she didn't get affected by that one scene. Hearing Aamir give his reasons why he went with the scene the way he did will make you respect the creative choices he made as a director. Infact, in more than a couple of scenes you will see how Aamir brings together the best of what the DOP and editor Deepa Bhatia had to offer. An example is the scene where Ishaan is seen crying all by himself in the hostel bathroom- soul-stirring stuff.
Taare Zameen Par very deservedly went on to become one of the biggest hits in Bollywood ever and won accolades all over the world and in India. I say deservedly because in India often big hits don't necessarily mean good cinema but this was nothing less than a fantastic film backed by heartfelt performances. It is also one of those rare Indian movies where everything from music to photography to editing came together and clicked. And last but the least, the two men who made it click, the very humane writing of Amole Gupte and the guiding directorial genius of Aamir Khan. This is a must-watch. To say anything less, would be demeaning the movie.