Monday, December 31, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

Emotional Beauty

Taare Zameen Par (2007, India, Directed by Aamir Khan): Rating 10/10

The human mind is complicated enough -- despite decades of scientific advances, we are still a long way from comprehending all the mysteries embedded in the human psyche. We have difficulty understanding adults despite the benefits of observing their body language, their expressions and even noticing adults behavior. If we can't comprehend adults, what are we to make of little children? Can we ever truly understand what goes on in a child's mind?

We live in a society where things are labeled and packaged instantly. 14 year old kids are pushed towards Olympic excellence, the weight of soccer teams is thrust on fragile 16-17 year old shoulders and 10 year olds are expected to be future geniuses. But in a fast paced world, not everyone can keep pace. Just like each soccer player and team has its own tempo, so do humans and kids in particular. Schools have multiple kids in one classroom and teachers don't have time for everyone. Exams are marked quickly because teachers have too much to do. And sometimes, parents do not have time to properly understand their children. So if a child needs help, he/she is bound to be isolated and left on his own.

Taare Zameen Par shows a 9 year old's (Ishaan) problem with dyslexia. Ishaan has trouble with words but no one notices his difficulty. He is afraid to look at words which jump out of the page and taunt him. Yet he is comfortable with images and the beauty in nature. So it is not a surprize that Ishaan finds peace and comfort just by observing the chaotic everyday images. Those same images are ignored by adults who rush about in a chaotic world, yet an innocent 9 year old can carefully extract the beauty from mundane activities such as painting of house walls, hammering of nails, a crane digging up rocks or even a vendor crushing ice. It is left to an art teacher (Aamir Khan) who once suffered from the same problem as a child to help integrate young Ishaan into the harsh world.

The film is handled with a lot of delicacy and emotional tenderness. As the movie strives to show things from the view point of Ishaan, the audience is treated to a world full of simplicity and charm in everyday mundane activities. That is a quite a feat considering that a city like Mumbai offers very little respite from constant relentless noise and competition (education, corporate or even spousal). In that regards, Taare Zameen Par is able to abstract the beauty out of a dangerous and chaotic world. Even when Ishaan wanders around the dangerous streets of Mumbai by himself, the background music and camera only focus on highlighting the joy of discovery he has in observing objects around him. Yes, the film gets a bit emotional in parts but at no point does it resort to melodrama or over the top acting. Also, credit goes to an exceptional acting performance from 10 year old Darsheel Safary. His expressions are phenomenal as he manages to convey the confusion, frustration and hidden joy that exists in 9 year old Ishaan. Easily, the best Indian film of the year.

No comments: