Warning: Don't read this post if you haven't seen the movie and want to watch it. Although it's a bit unlikely that you haven't seen it yet! Also, if you're not interested in this movie, you may want to skip the post and come back tomorrow, or you'll get very bored. Cool? Chalo, then.
So everyone I know who has seen Taare Zameen Par absolutely loves it. I have been wanting to watch the movie for the longest time, but haven't been able to do it because of Peanut - can't take a six month old to a movie hall, can't leave her behind for so many hours yet, and the DVD isn't out yet.
But Vijay managed to get a CD with a not-so-great-but-watchable print, and so we actually sat down and watched it this morning. Phew! Glad that's out of the way because we had heard so much about it and the anticipation was killing me.
I was also most curious to see if I would cry during the movie because I have heard that most people - at least the women - or maybe the mothers in particular - are quite affected by the movie in this manner. I was therefore heartened by the fact that within the first five minutes I felt a definite lump in my throat to see poor Ishan being treated so badly. So misunderstood. That part of the film was just brilliantly done. I didn't actually cry though, though I felt my eyes beginning to well up a couple more times. Damn! It's been so long that a movie actually made me cry - because it was moving and not just plain bad -and I was quite looking forward to it. In fact - which was the last one? I can't remember! Ohh yeah, I think it was Chota Chetan - the original one when I was a kid, not the recent stupid 3D version with Urmila playing Batgirl.
But the thing with Taare Zameen Par - now, a lot of people are just going to plain disagree with me and that's quite alright - I found the overall thing quite disappointing. Part of this is because my expectations were way too high, although I tried not to let this affect me. But the truth is, I loved the movie till the time that Aamir made his highly dramatic entrance. And I thought it was just all downhill from there.
It's just that right before he jumped onto the screen in his clown costume, I was telling Vijay that the sad about this movie is that it is actually so close to the way that teachers in our schools behave - always rewarding consistency and rote and never making an attempt to understand a student's individual needs. And I was so happy to see that there weren't any songs which were randomly thrown in - each song that was sung in the background was meaningful and relevant to the scenes being shown. At this point, Aamir jumps in wiggling his bum singing 'Bum bum bole' to his students. Now don't get me wrong - it's a nice song, and that bum wiggling step is fun - I know because tried it almost immediately after the movie in the privacy of my own room - it's just that I thought it was all too sudden - and that the movie became completely predictable right after Aamir's entry. Suddenly you knew exactly what would happen, and even how it would happen - this cool, understanding, creative, super new art teacher would help Ishan and it would all be okay, etc.
Now, I know what staunch supporters of this movie would say -that the storyline is fairly well-known and predictable anyway - and it is the treatment that matters. True enough, but I just felt that the treatment in the first half of the movie was so classy, so different from all other movies, but despite the known storyline, it also left me really looking forward to what would happen next-and the second half just didn't live upto that.
I guess it was mostly that everything until that intermission point was so touching because it was so incredibly Real. And then, quite suddenly, it took on this fairy tale like quality wherein everything was being set right by Aamir and falling into place so nicely. I don't know. I guess that is commercial cinema for you, though. In Hindi movies, at least.
I also found the whole 'Art mela' and Ishan winning the first prize and being lauded by his peers, etc etc a trifle overdone and very predictable. Did you? It was a bit like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer being suddenly loved by all the reindeer after Santa requested him to guide his sleigh. I'm hoping you know what I mean.
That's the thing, see. Why did he have to have a predictable special talent at all? I mean, why is it hard to imagine someone being average at everything? Obviously not everyone can be outstanding at everything - or maybe even at one thing. What's wrong with that? But then, when I think abouti, then it wouldn't be a movie, it would be reality - and that's not always much fun to watch, na? I mean, Rainman wouldn't have been so great if Dustin Hoffman wasn't always flabbergasting Tom Cruise with his nonchalant mathematical genius. Yeah.
But the best part of this movie is that it really makes you think. Think hard about the way that we are all set to always compete with each other - how everything is about Relative Grading, or RG-ing to use a Management Institute term. Winning competitions, first prizes, certificates, medals, badges, blah blah blah. Gah! I was taken back to my own schooling and college days, and how many of the teachers were just plain uninterested in creativity -in fact, uninterested in their jobs. A couple of years from now, we'll really need to figure this one out for Peanut's sake - and I'm not sure what we will actually do, but I know we'll do our best when that time comes.
And of course, I was only a little turned off by the rather obvious lift that the movie made from Calvin and Hobbes - when Ishan is imagining himself as 'Captain Ishan' (the equivalent of Calvin as Spaceman Spiff) trying to add 3 and 6 together and somehow concluding that the answer is 3. Why does a whole sequence like this have to be lifted with hardly any change from the original- that's a little bit more than inspiration, na? But then again, Ishan's huge grin and confident reply of 'Bindaas!' when asked how his test went, almost makes up for this rather blatant lift.
Overall, that kid who played Ishan was just brilliant throughout the movie. For him and the treatment in the first half alone, this movie was way, way above 'worth it' for me.
Man, this is why I don't do movie reviews. It's really quite pointless reviewing a movie that everyone else has already seen - and most people simple lowe. But heck, it's not really a review, it's just something that was on my mind and so I wrote it!
P.S - Vijay just came in and saw me writing this and asked me 'tum apni rai prakat kar rahe ho iss movie par? kyon itni achhi movie ke dhajjiya uda rahen ho?'. I am not doing that at all, am I?! And what is dhajjiyan udana, anyway?!
P.P.S - I think the only Hindi movies I have seen which have stayed brilliant throughout and not gone 'over the top' are Monsoon Wedding and Water. But then again, not quite fully commercial cinema, na?