How can one not love a movie about children crafted with utmost compassion - children with special needs at that? But, is that the only reason I liked Tare Zameen Par? Maybe - maybe not. What I know for sure is that a strong one-line story is narrated extremely charmingly. It is truly uplifting when spirit wins and yet, it is not all about the spirit of winning.
Tare Zameer Par is about a child who suffers because no one around him recognizes that he is a slow learner. The beauty of the narration is that the message applies to all children - learning disability or not. How can creativity not deserve a place in academics? It also points a very subtle finger at how we build conformation in our system right at the roots.
The pace of the first half gives you time to think of normal children who are just not academically inclined. The resolution in the second half, however, comes by too quickly compared to the trauma shown earlier. But, I guess, if the point is to show that difficulties can be overcome, you don't necessarily want to show how difficult it is to overcome them.
About 45 minutes post-interval, Darsheel Safary (Ishaan) said a line which made me realize that he hadn't said a line in the last hour or so. There I was feeling sorry for Ishaan, feeling like yelling at someone to give him a big hug while I fought this lump in my throat that had been there for the longest time. All this based solely on Darsheel's expressions and body language!
Kudos to the director for taking this decision and many such with brilliant confidence. And, finally we have a dialogue writer who knows when not to give the actors a helping hand. There are a couple of verbose, preachy scenes. But, they made the point because they were well written.
Aamir Khan's entry into the movie seemed over-the-top and forced, mainly because it was in absolute contrast with the tone of the movie thus far. But after a little while you realize that you can't distinguish between the actor/director Aamir Khan and his character Nikhumb. They are both fighting the same cause. Passionately. The other characters serve their purpose as caricatures - stereotypical father, loving mother, understanding sibling, ruthless teacher, and jeering peers.
No matter who or what the focus of the camera is, the love it feels towards its subjects shows in each frame. And, in turn, you fall in love with what you see on screen. Compositions, lighting, angles, colors all work successfully together to engross you and very often to enchant you. The lingering camera might have added a good 10-15 minutes to the run-time. But you will be hard-pressed to point out exact scenes which the movie could have done without. Everything is building character or atmosphere or both.
The songs too contribute to the narrative. The lyrics are sheer poetry. I know-I know, that's what they are supposed to be, but can't remember the last time lyrics brought me to tears. "mein kabhi batlaata nahi" kept me speechless (and we all know how difficult that is!). And rock-style guitar strumming to a kids' song - that's what I call creative.
Yes, that dash of seemingly inevitable melodrama exists. The side-characters transform for no apparent reason. The climax is exaggerated and is as unrealistic as it could get. However, the aim is to show not reality of life but reality of the condition that this child suffers from. Once you get that, you pardon the make-up a mother is wearing at 6 AM while doing her chores. And anyway, most of this is towards the end, by which time you are willing to forgive. Because, above all else, it makes you think.
When did we grow up? When along the way did we forget what it felt like to be yelled at, to be put down, to be ridiculed? And why did we choose the next generation for revenge? Will we recognize the child in us that is struggling to get out? Will the sensation that the lump in the throat created, stay after the credits roll?
- meetu, a part of the audience