Because a bad Aamir is still better than a great SRK
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.