I didn’t what to expect of Taare Zameen Par. But I can tell you this, I hardly ever cry when I am watching films. I am too much of a cynic really. But I found myself sobbing a few times. (Which meant that Sri started laughing, of course.)
If the cast of the film was even slightly different, or not as effective, the parts that make you cry could make you cringe. Take the kid who plays Ishaan – Darsheel. He sets the pace of the film throughout. In fact, he clearly steals the show from Aamir Khan. Any other kid might have completely overdone the part. With Darsheel, you don’t even realizing he’s acting.
The camera treats him with a certain gentleness. It lingers on him. It’s patient with him, which is not what one can say about the adults in his life. It’s so rare that any mainstream film even talks about childhood and loneliness in the same breath. Cinema usually infuses so much “cuteness” into the character of children, that they come across as precocious rather than sad. You know what I mean right? Like kids who explain the meaning of life to adults in films. Annoying.
For a few minutes, I did feel like there seemed to be the threat of clichés. But what is that fine line between being realistic and using stereotypes? At what point do realistic characters become stereotypes? For instance, Ishaan’s father annoys you. You wonder if this isn’t the usual stereotype. The father as a near heartless man who drives his kids to the edge, and who doesn’t slow down for a minute to actually encourage them. Or the mother who is big softy, and is so pliable. But, there are these fine details that keep them real. Though they almost disappear in the second half of the film.
Then, there’s Aamir Khan the miracle man. The art teacher who cries more often in a day than a newborn. The other teachers who are mean and so overworked. Not that it isn’t possible. I’ve had some teachers who clearly got into the teaching line so they could be in the proximity of those they liked to torture. But Aamir Khan’s character, even if a bit too obvious – is a sensitive one. He isn’t too preachy. He is emotional because he relates to the child.
Oh, and one more nice thing. Class toppers aren’t shown as snooty. Elder brothers aren’t bullies. The elder brother is obviously protective and caring. He’s also exasperated at times. In fact, that’s one relationship that should have got more screen time. To be fair though, the film is rather well edited, and I can’t think of any scene that I would delete. It’s not a short film. But you don’t really realize it. Sometimes the music feels a little harsh on the ears. But towards the end, the music, the visuals and a particular bit when the kid finally sees a painting (no, I won’t spoil it for you – though you have to be really non-filmi to not guess it) – the waterworks started. You don’t cry because you feel sorry for the kid. No, not at all. In fact this film isn’t about children with different needs. It’s about any kid who feels misunderstood.
Lovely film. Go watch. You might even squeeze out a tear or two.