Sunday, December 23, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

(Foreword: this piece has turned out to be mighty list-y, but I'm not sure I really mind, because the movie is so uncomplicatedly lovely that maybe there's not that much that needs to be said about it.)

It's a bit like Chak De India, isn't it: full of heart-string-tugging tropes, of stories we've heard before, of very effective youngsters and (relatively) subtle, inspiring Khan-jis? As I said about the former, there's nothing wrong with using those raw ingredients if you do something unique, meaningful, and/or entertaining with them, and Taare Zameen Par made the different-is-beautiful, inspiring-teacher tales work really well.

The cast is excellent, most notably Darsheel Safary, of course; as is the inherent danger with stories about small children facing big challenges, if he hadn't had such a careful touch, the movie would have been a trite, mawkish mess. Aamir too deserves credit for getting such a performance out of the story's little star - as well as for acting with him so effectively. I found all the characters to be written interestingly and performed with heart, especially Ishaan's family and especially especially his relationship with his older brother. The animation, unlike anything I've seen in an Indian movie so far, is charming and evocative and perfectly integrated to show us Ishaan's mind and ways of communicating. I'm not nuts about the soundtrack, but it's way better in the movie than it was when I listened to it on its own last week. (And oh how I blubbed during "Maa" - and that was just the first of at least three times that I cried.) Overall the movie creates several different worlds and manages to interconnect them, to get the inhabitants to understand one another. It's very sweet and moving, raises important questions about life in the lock-step competitive culture, and is a non-stupid movie for viewers of any age. I hope everyone who sees it can act on its lessons.

Let's just say this: I took my parents to see it, and even my dad, male child of the 50s that he is, said "that was a two-hankie movie we had there!" in an admiring sort of tone. My parents are both teachers and have dealt with dozens of students with less than ideal educational backgrounds, and I wonder if that had something to do with how much they liked it. It certainly made me very grateful and pleased that I spend my work days involved with learning and outreach and encouraging people to try to discover and understand others.

Aside #1: I don't know if that story Aamir's character told about Solomon Islanders felling trees through negativity is true, but even if it isn't, wow, that's a good thing to keep in mind, you know? How often does each of us weaken the roots of another person or otherwise add to the conditions in which they can wither and fall? What a harsh, important thing to remember in how we treat other people.

Aside #2: Aamir, yaar, this was a very fine movie (I don't have a firm grasp on what a film director does, exactly, but there wasn't anything here that I didn't like, so great job!), but what is with the fauxhawk? Is the character just so so unconventional that he could only be expressed through your hair?

6 comments:

Pri said...

wasn't it absolutely heart breaking? i could hear sobs all around the theatre. nobody seemed to be in a hurry to get up during the interval. i don't think they had recovered from all the crying.

The holy cow said...

Hi Beth,
This is Gaurav from Kolkata,India.I saw TZP yesterday and just loved it.Here,some had the feeling that youngsters like us(I am 21 now) would not like the movie and would rather prefer some other masala movie.But believe me,the theatre I went was mostly packed with guys and gals of my age and even younger.We couldn't control our tears in certain scenes,esp in the "ma" song and in the end scenes.Overall,it should be one of the top grossers of 2008.
ALSO,I WOULD LIKE TO INFORM YOU THAT AAMIR KHAN HAS HIS OWN BLOG/CHAT IN AAMIRKHAN.COM,BELIEVE ME IT'S HIS OWN SITE AND NOT SOME FANCLUB SITE.IF YOU WANT TO CONVEY SOMETHING TO HIM DIRECTLY,I WOULD SUGGEST TO GO TO HIS BLOG.HE HAS THANKED THE AUDIENCE FOR LOVING HIS MOVIE THIS MUCH(TZP is getting rave reviews all throughout the country).Also,I would like to add that I am a regular reader of your great blog.So,keep up the good work!!!!

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Beth said...

Pri - most definitely! Everyone I was sitting with was moist-eyed and snuffly when we left (even my dad!).

holy cow - thanks! I have not yet explored Aamir's site - usually celebrity writing is bad enough that I stay away on principle, but I have heard good things about his blog from many people, so I might go investigate. As for your comments on the audience, I think it's great the movie is appealing to people of all ages. In some ways, maybe the movie is especially relevant to people who are either still in school or just recently finished....

mayank said...

nice review..
one thing i like about the movie is its reality..
indian kids are really conditioned to take studies seriously(i mean very)..
may because of the insecurity of job..
other day i checked on the net..
the social rates in students because of the failure in examination is really high...
and its not with this generation even our parents and elders were made to take studies very seriously..youll find even a 12 year kid studying and knocking his/her head hours and hours on a textbook...

well other then i also liked the scene wen the kids mother and even his father were protecting their son in the carfor a moment after their meeting with the school teachers...

also the scene of his daily routine in the begining "duniya ka naata"where the kids mom was angry and even beating him throughout the song[:D] but kissed him goodbye wen he entered the bus..

mayank said...

oops
*social>>>suicidal