Stanley Ka Dabba - Review

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

It's a very warm film and can make you nostalgic. It brings out irony that is part of everyday life. It comments on a blistering issue in society, but it doesn't let the issue take over the film. But it is also very slow and predictable.

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Wogma Review

Stanley ka Dabba, the title by itself warmed me up to the film. I used to be that lazy one in school who'd never get her "tiffin box". And this is after my little sister would pack it early in the morning. I don't know, my own dabba just never was fascinating enough. Years later, as I watch Stanley ka Dabba, I realize maybe it was a 'bonding' thing for me. Many friends made over shared parathas and buscuits. Sure, Stanley's reason for not bringing food for himself is as far from laziness as it could be, but the fact that he didn’t have his meal with him brought the same result. Many friends and lovely memories. Despite this fondness though, Stanley ka Dabba seemed slow, predictable and repetitive in its 95 minute duration.

Stanley ka Dabba's promo also makes you believe that there is going to be something really deep in the film that will take repeated viewings to deconstruct. It raises a question about Stanley's background that remains unanswered till the last ten minutes of the film. By then, you have pretty much made up your own sad story about his family and probable life-style situation. And the climax gives you exactly that. In that sense, the film is unpredictable, right? You were expecting something more, something beyond the superficial but didn't get it.

But who says every film has to have a zen moment of realization? For what it is, Stanley ka Dabba is perfectly enjoyable because of its simplicity and how relatable it is. A science teacher who constantly asks you to stick to the norms, a unreasonable Hindi teacher who insists that the Goddess of knowledge will oblige only if you use the right hand. Stanley ka Dabba is all about simple things like these and the fact that every student who has come out of a traditional Indian school environment will find something to smile at.

And if you can't identify with the events of the film, there's always Stanley to smile with. Partho plays the charming Stanley, a master story-teller, who has a very strong self-esteem. In fact, all the kids in the film are perfect in their roles - almost as if they aren't acting at all.

The kids in the theater around me seemed to love every minute they spent with Stanley. They didn't seem to mind the slow pace or the repetition. It didn't matter that there seemed to be no valid reason for the angst and resolution thereof between Stanley and his Hindi teacher. Nor did they care that the climax does nothing outside the box. The protagonist is the hero and has a story that tugs the right strings for that lumpy throat.

I'm really curious how the film is going to be liked at film festivals both Indian and international. The context is very Indian. In fact, it is documentation of the education system and the culture revolving in schools in India. Fortunately, the "new-age" schools might be changing the teacher-facing experience. Unfortunately though it might be changing the dabba experience too.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None!
  • Concept: Bonding over lunch breaks at school.
  • General Look and Feel: Simple and heartwarming.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story: 3
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 3
  • Dialogues: 3
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director: 2.5
  • Lyrics: 2.5

Stanley Ka Dabba - Movie Details

Stanley Ka Dabba - Trailer

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Comments (9)

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Rahul:

Here - a music review for you!

http://itwofs.com/milliblog/2011/04/23/stanley-ka-dabba-music-review-hindi-hitesh-sonik-and-amole-gupte/

Gaurav Batla:

Stanley ka Dabba: Verrry Tasty
Stanley ka Dabba is the Taare Zameen Par without the Apologetic Nature of the movie. The movie doesn't make you feel sorry for a 'Different Kid'. It doesn't black mail you anywhere to cry. Its like a breath of fresh air (Excuse the Cliche please). If you have seen 'Children of Heaven' by Majid Majidi you are going to love this one. The movie is sweet, calm, light and makes a point without stressing too much on it. Its one of those movies where you can just go in the cinema hall, immerse yourself in without thinking too much. An absolute recommendation this weekend.

Full Review: http://gauravbatla.blogspot.com/2011/05/stanley-ka-dabba-verrry-tasty.html

Neha:

In spite of whatever Amol Gupte may say, he has been so stung and angry and vengeful with Aamir Khan for his loss of Taare Zamin Par after he had worked on it qite awhile, that as a I'll Show Him exercise, he has come up with "Dabba".

So, does this film remind people of TZP ? Are there similarities ? Most important, except for Daisy Irani and Honey Irani aeons ago, the most wonderful child-actor of recent times has been Darsheel Safary. Is Partho equally talented, a notch better or less ? The answer to that question will be important in the decision to see the film or not,.

Anil Paranjape:

Watching this was similar to opening my own 'dabba' a few times: expecting something simple+yummy inside but finding something really so-so inside! I have no idea why Amole Gupte had to be so slapsticky. The plot (especially the tiffin-raiding teacher and his revenge) is pulled so much as to resemble a chewed-up-devoid-of-any-sweetness-piece-of-chewing-gum. It's so totally contrived. Except for a few warm scenes, it was not a very filling and satisfying dabba. Thankfully the child actor is not so artificially precocious that you want to slap the living daylights out of him/her. I have yet to understand why India cannot find really good child actors a la Joel Osment, Dakota Fanning, Justin Henry (Cramer vs Cramer) et al. The level of overacting they are made/encouraged to do (or are pardoned for doing it) is astonishing. But that's generally true of most acting. It's sad that natural and understated acting of stalwarts such as Balraj Sahni, Vikram Gokhale etc never caught on. Most Bollywood acting is (and has been) garishly overdone and the serials take it to their abysmal worst! Anyways... this child actor (and cohorts) were much better than the crop you see in most films and that was heartwarming. Maybe we're learning that artificially deep breathing and displays of face contortions in every imaginable ways and obnoxious close-ups of them is not really good acting. This may sound too broad-brushed but just venting years of hating bad acting in Bollywood movies. There are of-course some gems. One of the best acting scenes I have ever seen anywhere on earth is Sanjiv Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri during their wedding scene in Koshish. My god! They are both deaf and mute and have no idea what commotion is going on around them. She just takes it in visually and he's lost in his own thoughts. Amazing acting!

meetu:

@Anil you are right about acting in general and acting/characters/lines given to children in Hindi cinema. I thought these guys were brilliant here, and thankful they didnt take their cue from the director. Another film with GOOD child actors is chillar party. They look and behave like children.

More generally, haven't you seen the new brand of actors - Kay Kay Menon, Irrfan Khan? They really take you into their world.

Montu jain:

In spite of whatever Amol Gupte may say, he has been so stung and angry and vengeful with Aamir Khan for his loss of Taare Zamin Par after he had worked on it qite awhile, that as a I'll Show Him exercise, he has come up with "Dabba".

So, does this film remind people of TZP ? Are there similarities ? Most important, except for Daisy Irani and Honey Irani aeons ago, the most wonderful child-actor of recent times has been Darsheel Safary. Is Partho equally talented, a notch better or less ? The answer to that question will be important in the decision to see the film or not,.

meetu:

@Montu there aren't any similarities really, except that it is about 8-10 year old boys in a school. Partho is a good actor, we don't really need to compare with Darsheel - there is room for both.

Mette:

I agree with you that the movie is perfectly enjoyable despite the "anti-climax". It does give you what you want (or expect) but, as a rare exception, that's very satisfying. Also glad to hear that the kids in the audience enjoyed the movie!

meetu:

@Mette :D

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