I am Kalam - Review

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

I am Kalam charmingly visualizes the life of a little boy who has to work to sustain himself and his family. Its simplicity is works as both an advantage and a disadvantage. The easy-going narrative is a pleasant watch but too-good-to-be-true plot is distracting.

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Wogma Review

I am Kalam is a beautiful film. It romanticizes friendships, loneliness, class divides, political borders, ambition and of course roadside dhaabas and Rajasthan too. If only, the story held a little stronger or had a little more depth than aspiring young boy struggles to get what he wants.

I am Kalam is mainly the tale of young Chhotu who has given himself an alias - Kalam - after the former president of India. Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam is this little boy's inspiration. This little boy who works at a roadside dhaba cheerfully instead of grunting about going to school. He wants to go, but he can't afford to. As expected, the film has emotional moments and a strong message. But the moments are endearing and the message is well-hidden under a basic, sensitive story.

However, the story is a little more than just the story of Chhotu. It has other characters and their personalities that represent an older generation that has lost all hope and a part of Gen X from the interiors of India - the lazy, insecure and mean part. These digressions take away from the film because the approach to these side-stories is half-hearted.

I don't have material to empathize with Bhati (Gulshan Grover) or to want to give Laptan (Pitobash) one hard slap. And this is despite the fact that they have given awesome performances. You see the humility in Gulshan Grover's eyes and Pitobash annoys appropriately. But I don't care to love or hate them. The cuts in the film, that take you to their stories, give you the feeling that in the urge to keep the running time down, the makers gave up on the flow. The choppiness was disconcerting. And so was the side-story of the kings from the yesteryears who have lost their glory.

Fortunately, what matters is that Harsh Mayur who plays the protagonist is ever-so appealing with the twinkle in his eye. The rags he wears matter not, because of the wide grin he strides with. The spring in his step make you even more aware of his dire situation and the lesson or two you can learn from him. Both the actor and the character are equally responsible for the fine experience that Chhotu is.

And yet, the main story has a lot to say and I am Kalam says it with love. Its strength is in the subtlety with which it raises a question. What is chhotu thanking Kalam for? How would Dr. Kalam react if he actually met chhotu who labors at his tender age?

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A fist fight between a child and a young guy.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None.
  • Concept: A soft portrayal of the problem of child labor.
  • General Look and Feel: Bright and upbeat.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 2.5
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 3
  • Dialogues: 3
  • Screenplay: 2.5
  • Music Director: 3
  • Lyrics: 2.5

I am Kalam - Movie Details

I am Kalam - Trailer

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Comments (2)

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Saurabh Sengupta:

loved this movie

meetu:

@Garud you are right. The problem is that not all reviewers give stars, so I needed to come up with a scheme that gave an overall opinion of a film. I could not make it on a scale of 5 because for the ones that do not have a rating, it would be very difficult for me to judge whether the reviewer felt that the film was a 2.5 or a 3 or a 3.5. Hence, this in-between.

And yes, I should have a page that describes how this rating is arrived at. Will get on it soon. Thanks.

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