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Because a bad Aamir is still better than a great SRK

December 27, 2007

While SRK romps around half naked and as a dear friend says, plays up to Karan Johar’s fantasy world where he appears in a fireman’s outfit, Aamir Khan dives into TZP donning a clown’s outfit with no gori girls for company. Aamir is also over-the-top. He is also melodramatic. Every time his eyes welled up, I bit my lip. I wanted him to be a little less sensitive, a little more worldly. A little less didactic, and a little more empowering.

The above words might seem harsh to my husband who sat beside me as I wept from the first frame to the last. Since much of the good has been said already, I am merely pointing out what struck me as inauthentic, and leaving the kudos (which is obviously deserved) for just a few lines.

But let me state the obvious anyway. Aamir tops the year of 2007.

Taare Zameen Par took us into the wonderful world of disabled learning.. Does that sentence sound deplorable? Well, “wonderful” when Ram Nikhumbh explains it. “Wonderful” when Ishaan, the dyslexic protagonist embodies it. And “wonderful” when the world sees the light.

Unfortunately, seeing the light is what TZP does too easily, too glibly. This is of course a movie for happy endings. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But for the better part of the movie, Aamir expounds about shielding children from the adult rat race. About focusing on the “special” instead of the “best”. He chastises Ishaan’s parents for not recognizing Ishaan’s talent for Art and only focusing on his lack of reading and writing.

And what does he proceed to do? He proceeds to correct Ishaan. He teaches him to conform. Yes he also recognizes and encourages his talent. But Aamir and the movie blow it in the climax. It struck me odd that the man who hates the rat race and the fight for the top would organize an art “competition”. Why not just a gala, an extravaganza? It’s a beautiful setting. It’s free for all, but it’s still a fight to see who’s best. He frets when Ishaan doesn’t show up. He is not better than the father at the older son’s tennis match. He fidgets while Ishaan draws. He heaves a sigh of relief at a job well done. He puffs up with pride when Ishaan wins.

Ishaan winning is TZP’s failure. Aamir set out to subvert the prevalent paradigm. Instead, in Aamir’s world, the paradigm stays – only the rules to play have changed a little.

I believe perfection is often the enemy of good – and TZP is definitely good, even great. Aamir generously gave half the movie to Ishaan and while he was clearly the sappy “good” in this good vs. evil story, he is not half as self-indulgent as the rest of Bollywood.

The climax notwithstanding, I’ll take a movie about children with learning disabilities over this economical blockbuster with Saif, Katrina, Bipasha, Anil, Sameera, Akshaye and some snazzy cars anyday.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Purana Dost permalink
    January 1, 2008 8:48 am

    Happy B’day !!!

  2. eloquent permalink
    January 2, 2008 12:19 am

    I completely agree with you on all counts about the film. But I would like to believe the competition was the sell out factor to get the audiences in. And though I would not subscribe to it ideologically, I think it is a small price to pay for a noble idea. The movie was too simplistic as well, but like I said I think this is as much as the audiences can take in India. As it is they came to watch the film since it was an “Aamir Khan” film and not because it was a sensitive film, so they would not accept something that challenges something they are brought upto believe is the bed rock of success in life – COMPETITION, even if Aamir Khan was telling them so. Believe me, a majority of them would not have seen the school system ( as shown in the film) as being bad, but merely bad from Ishan’s point of view,given his problem.

  3. girlonthebridge permalink
    January 2, 2008 2:15 pm

    Purana – how purana?Eloquent: Agree, which is why I said I couldn’t think of an alternate ending. All said and done I am happier that the movie caters to the mainstream and brings audiences in rather than not. So if the competition does that (which it does), more power to it.The climax just seemed inauthentic to me in light of the rest of the movie, but easily forgiven and forgotten given the crux of the movie itself.

  4. Anamika permalink
    January 17, 2008 4:15 pm

    That’s an interesting observation, about the competition. I obviously swallowed it all, not even thinking that the movie dragged in places – a complaint I heard from others.

    But perhaps he wants to set up a “win” for Ishaan? As a boost to his confidence? A win he completely deserves for his artistic talent. Perhaps this is to encourage Ishaan to return to drawing, which is the core genius Aamir sees in him.

  5. girlonthebridge permalink
    January 22, 2008 9:26 pm

    Anamika – I was definitely caught up in it too, and irrespective of how I felt I wept as he ran to hug Aamir in the end:)I don’t doubt that Ishaan deserved to win or genuinely had talent. I guess I felt like he didn’t “need” to win to be special, loved, belong etc. At least that’s what Aamir was preaching – these kids are special – they don’t necessarily have to be geniuses. But in the end he felt the need to make Ishaan win, which in itself was conventional. I think that’s what struck me as not fitting with his philosophy.It begs the question – now will parents of dyslexic kids expect their children to be exceptional in some way? I hope not!But I loved the movie too. And didn’t notice any dragging either!

  6. frissko permalink
    February 27, 2008 3:21 pm

    Hmm…That’s an interesting take…I hadn’t spotted the contradiction..Even i wished the movie dint march on to the fairytale ending, but for different reasons.

  7. Thinking Cramps permalink
    June 4, 2008 4:17 pm

    Hey where are you? You’ve been silent for ever!

  8. Nino's Mum permalink
    November 28, 2008 1:17 pm

    Hey there 🙂 hope you’re well. drop by for a chat if you’re this side of the world.

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