In everyway possible, Ishaan of Taare Zameen Par (TZP) miraculously brings the mirror in front of me and makes me look back with nostalgia at the fond memories and even at some of the childhood dilemmas that I faced, along with the utter peer pressure which we have always been subjected to, right from Day 1 of School.The untied shoe laces, the uncombed hair, the shirts with the buttons out, and the free spirit crying and trying to let free from the shackles of the “conformity” and social compatibility. But then, this is not a personal confession, but the movie review (but a bit personal in a way) of TZP.
What makes TZP work for me is the very personal message that it carries of how children are exploited by their own parents by measuring them on the criteria of percentages and treating them as marks churning bots. Creativity and Arts are hardly encouraged enough and children face the grind of preparing for the Rat Race. TZP weaves this extremely sensitive message, which could actually fall flat as a niche topic appealing only to a handful, with a beautiful story of Ishaan Awasthi, a child suffering from dyslexia but with the gift of imagination and grabbing it into his world of crayons and wet brushes. Needless to say, Papa Awasthi is not pleased by the failure of young Ishaan at academics, given that his elder brother is a school topper. TZP spans across the imaginative world of Ishaan and his continuous struggle with the straitjacket of conformity. Subsequently he emerges triumphant with the help of his Fine Arts teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh( Aamir Khan), and it is this journey of triumph of the honest and innocent spirit of a child which keeps our eyes glued to the screen and moistened throughout.
The opening credits remind me of the numerous stop animation shorts that we have literally grown on, and yet in a very effective way, help us to explore the imaginative world of Ishaan. The Saturn hoola-hoops, the flight to Pluto and sea horses gallop, the flight of imagination has no bounds and to put them down to celluloid is a feat in itself.
Ishaan’s imaginative universe replete with bright hues and splashed shades stirs the soul and yet keeps it real without going overboard. As in, we do not get to see any Picasso or Da Vinci , but we get to see a child prodigy’s crayon works which look like a child’s. That’s how real it is. But then, TZP, being a commercial movie, has its elements of “Bollywood” in Aamir’s intro scene as the musical Patch Adams meets Pied Piper with a playback of Shaan on Bum Bum Bole. The kids are surprisingly too musically correct, which in my case isn’t too real. Because I know, my 5th standard class wasn’t at all, by any stretch of imagination. But then, complaining about that would be just plain nitpicking.
TZP’s real spirit comes alive with its music, and vice versa. Shankar Ehsaan Loy have given soul to the body of this celluloid piece and in my opinion, this is their best work since Dil Chahta Hai. With Vishal creating the aura of the very Rock “Duniya Ka Naaraa….Jamey Raho” we sense the mechanical nature of today’s materialistic world, where early morning routines of the typical working class and their children finds accurate definition. And as Shankar enters with a classical twist to it with “ Yahaa Alag Andaaz hai…” we see little Ishaan waking up in his own pace. Instant Reaction:-the 9 inch smile-
Ye Waqt Ke Kabhi Ghulam Nahi, Inhe Kisi Baat ka Dhyaan Nahi, Titlee se Milne Jaate Hai, Ye Pedho se Batiyate Hai
( He is not a slave to time, He doesn’t care about anything, He goes to meet the butterflies, He talks to the Trees). One of my favorite on the soundtrack is the imaginative Mera Jahaan with Adnan Sami and cute,childish yet perfectly pitched Auriel and Ananya who remind me of Connie Talbot singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The falsetto rendition of “All I need is to be …..Freeeee….” just gives me goose bumps everytime I listen to it. And then the very relaxed and dew fresh vocals of Adnan take over the acoustic guitars in the background as he murmurs” Sapno ka buna…Sweater..”. Young Ishaan explores the streets of Mumbai all alone and yet, the song sings “ Akela Nahi Main, Khuli Aankho se Neend main chalta, Girta zyada,Kam Sambhalta “( I am not alone, I am walking in my sleep with my eyes wide open, I fall often and I am very less careful).
The First ace of the soundtrack however is Maa. Shankar Mahadevan is aged 40 plus, yet he miraculously blends the sentiments of an 8 year old in his vocals, and surprisingly enough for me, I started believing that it’s Ishaan crying out “Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa » ( I never say it, But oh mother,I am scared of the dark). Even the coldest heart would melt down and for me, it was time to change the handkerchief. The title track “ Taare Zameen Par” shows why Prasoon Joshi is taking home all the awards next year for Best Lyricist. Innocent thoughts unadulterated by the cunning thoughts of adulthood, is what can describe the sheer sincerity of the lyrics. Take this –
Jaise Aankhon Ki Dibiya Mein Nindiya
Aur Nindiya Mein Meetha Sa Sapna
Aur Sapne Mein Mil Jaaye Farishta Sa Koi
(Like Sleep in the Box of the eyes, And a Sweet Dream in the Sleep, And in that Sleep, finding an Angel).
And then we have Raman Mahadevan taking control of the offbeat guitar strokes with “Kholo Kholo”. This is where Indian Rock just made its presence stronger in Bollywood Music. I so much love it, and I can’t stop my air-drumming. Even Ishaan’s theme set to the Youtube-ish Home video footage of kid Ishaan made me tears trickle down. Okay, I admit that I am weepy. So what?
As far as the performances go, I believe Aamir Khan is winning the award for the Best Supporting Actor. Because Darsheel Safary as Ishaan Awasthi spells magic and gives life to this character to such an extent, that we do not for even a moment get to think that a piece of filmed material is being screened. All the pranks, all the frustration, the anger, the wicked smiles, the fears and the tears are all so real, and noticeably without the “extra sugar coated” boy image that Bollywood movies are populated with. Aamir Khan, the director, or Aamir Khan, the actor. BOTH. You really know how to tell your story and dude, you’ve just outdone yourself.Give him all the awards, all the honors, and Darsheel you deserve a trip to Disneyland for this. Now where’s my third handkerfchief?