Monday, 27 May 2013

CHILDREN’S DAY SPECIAL; MOVIE REVIEW; Like Stars on Earth, Every Child Is Special.

Childhood; That period in one’s life when one is at his/her peak. Life is lived to the fullest with no worries. The most interesting period of our lives. Memories are made, friends are gotten, talents are discovered, and life explains itself more clearly.
I happen to have an out-of-this-world childhood. In the sense that, I never for once wished for more. I was happy growing up and I always thank God for parents, siblings and friends like mine.
This day, I look back and smile, with memories to share, I never went to the beach or the water park. I can barely remember going for parties on this day, let’s put it this way, I grew up knowing the joy in FAMILY.
I stumbled upon this movie, Like Stars on Earth, Every Child Is Special, and I wish to share it to every child, by age or at heart.
Indian, splendid, breath-taking, this movie is worth every second of it. It tugs at your heartstrings. It makes you reach for the tissues. It makes you laugh. It makes you happy. And you go back home with a lesson for life. Let me not hype it too much to avoid raised expectations. Its thoughtfulness cannot be overemphasized. The role of the parents, siblings, teacher, classmates and friends were well played.
Taare Zameen Par, as translated in the local Indian language, is centered on 8 year old Ishaan Awasthi, who struggles to meet up with the competition from his extremely bright brother, Yohan Awasthi, his ever caring mum who gave up her career to look after her son, and his ever demanding father who sets goals for him that he wouldn’t have necessarily been equipped to achieve.
A misunderstood child who’s not fond of school. Ishaan is no doubt a boy with beautiful dreams and imaginations, as seen in his paintings and his hyperactive imagination helps him negotiate the tedious everydayness of daily life especially in the brilliant scene where Ishaan transforms into a character like Spaceman Spiff upon encountering a pesky math problem, clearly convinced that the only way to tackle multiplication is by hopping into a spaceship. 
But slowly it becomes clear that the problem with Ishaan is not just alienation or a lack of interest in studies. When he’s singled out by a teacher to list out the adjectives in a sentence, he looks at his textbook and announces, “The letters are dancing.” He is dyslexic.
His world comes crashing down when he’s sent to boarding school, which became his biggest strength as well as the beginning of his undoing; After all, the fear of a parent leaving you all alone isn’t exclusive to childhood. This sets stage for a miracle teacher who took it upon himself to help Ishaan discover his true self and find that which he lost (his love for painting).
The truly remarkable thing that Aamir Khan (as director) has achieved in Taare Zameen Par is an unhurried, even meandering, pace that sits you down and urges you to absorb the externals, the outward manifestations both physical and psychological, of this learning disorder.  No flashy sets, no out-of-context songs, no item girls, no distracting side actors who come in to provide comic relief. It is a no-nonsense film that makes its way straight to your heart and also stimulates the mind. Taare Zameen Par isn’t loud and melodramatic. And yet, it manages to keep your tear glands working all through the film, during happy times and poignant moments.
A lesson was prepared for everyone in this movie. 
To fathers, perhaps, just a little patience and understanding is all that a child wants. Ishaan’s father was so insensitive to his children’s needs that he couldn’t handle something as small as the elder son losing a tennis match. His teacher, by contrast, is so sensitive, he cries at the mere sight of children. He sees differently-abled kids perform in an Annual Day celebration – and his eyes well up with tears. He sees a kid mopping up tables at a roadside eatery – and his eyes well up with tears. He sees Ishaan’s paintings – and his eyes well up with tears. It’s no wonder that, at some point during his visit to Ishaan’s house, he asks for a glass of water; you’re not surprised, considering his constant loss of fluids.
Mothers too can learn from this movie. His motherly love was matchless. Ishaan’s mother comes across as a genuine presence in her son’s life. When he roughs up a kid and breaks a neighbour’s flower pots, his father slaps him, but his mother kneels down and gently tells him to go and have a shower, after which she applied Dettol on his wounds. He gives her hell in the mornings as she tries to get him ready for school, but just as she puts him on the bus and just before the bus takes off, she kisses him goodbye. She’s endlessly exasperated by Ishaan, but she loves him endlessly. 
To our dear teachers, stop treating their students as ‘kids’ and drown out the creativity
lying un-used within them by refusing to recognize their individuality. Conformism is killing ‘free’ society. Spanking and shouting doesn’t really work for every child. Nikumbh, his teacher, discovered that early enough to become not just teacher, but also surrogate mother and father, and friend and philosopher and guide.  It takes only a refined teacher like Nikumbh to recognize the inadequacies of Ishaan and help him fit into mainstream society.  Towards the end, there’s a moment when Ishaan climbs down a few stairs and he stumbles just as he nears Nikumbh, who – of course – steadies the child. It’s the capping-off visual metaphor for their relationship; All that Ishaan needed to shine.
For everyone, it’s a film that tries to take measured steps to make a fervent call for individualism in a society that trips on herd mentality. For a college student, this translates to opting for careers in engineering, medicine or management. For a primary school student, it’s about obtaining A+ grades in all the subjects, except art&craft, sports and other ‘extra-curricular’ activities. The problem is precisely this. Streams like Art & Craft and sports are treated as ‘extra-curricular’ when they are just as alive and kicking as any other career.
In fact, there are more unemployed engineers, doctors and MBA-grads because of this herd mentality leading to a problem of plenty – too many professional graduates and too few jobs. If only, they had followed their heart and did what they do best, then they would have either pioneered a new idiom in employment or taken a job that’s least sought after but most fulfilling to them.
What really hit me in the movie is the director’s flair for the small, slice-of-life-moment – for the head of cabbage that rolls down from a vegetable vendor’s cart, for the dab of white paint that falls from a hoarding-painter’s brush, for the dog resting its head on Ishaan’s lap as the other, “normal” kids play cricket.
The beauty of it all is the way the children acted like they weren’t captured. Realistic and inspiring. Darsheel Safary, who plays Ishaan, isn’t the kind of kid we usually see in the movies – a precocious brat producing instantly cute reactions on demand. He never ceases to impress me the way he effortlessly portrayed the life and times of a dyslexic child. I must commend, only a smart child can play dumb.
Well, I hope this movie inspires you as much as it did me, Click to get the movie downloaded. Down to the business of the day,


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Iweanya Victor is an Entrepreneur and a Blogger
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