So Aamir Khan does it yet yegain. The farty-something shtar does a role that was originally done expertly by a twenty-something Surya. The crowd loves him, or so I hear, never mind that he’s atleast a foot shorter than Surya, atleast twice his age, and has house-elf-like ears.
I personally feel Aamir should start doing Chacha or Mama roles and stop going to college and romancing girls his daughter’s age. But before you can chide me for my tragic viewpoints on this evergreen ever-young thinking actor, let me tell you that’s not the point of this post.
So the Hindi movie is called Ghajini, just like the Tamil one. I haven’t watched the movie; so I first thought it ws some pidgin Sanskrit which meant ‘one who looks like an elephant’ or something. Shouldn’t that be Gajini, my sister asked. I said maybe the producer consulted numerologists or something.
But then, Wikipedia informs me that the movie is called so because the lead character is like Mahmud Ghazni, who tried, tried and tried again till he succeeded.
So, fine, Ghazni is suitably Tamizh-ized to Ghajini. And maybe they hoped to score some extra marks for sounding like Rajini. Quite normal in the scheme of things… Simran Bagga becomes ‘Simuraan’, Mumtaz becomes “Mumtaaj”… just like in Japan, they call a radio a “raa-dhi-yo”.
But what I fail to understand is why they retained the title in Hindi? It could quite easily have been Ghazni? ज़ exists in the Devanagari alphabet, unlike in the Tamil alphabet, where we have ஜ (ja) which is being considered ‘un-Tamil’, and so we are moving towards using ச் (cha) for everything from cha, ja, sa, sha.
Or is it the new norm to SouthIndianize Hindi? First you have Javed Jaffrey speaking tha ingleesh longvages like it is the spoken norms in the Bangalores. And now this.
What next, SRK saying “Call me Sarukkaan. Everyone in Kollywood does”?
Just done watching Taare Zameen Par. And it’s not done my image of Aamir Khan any good. Here’s why:
- People say it’s great, DIFFERENT even, that the spotlight is taken by that little buck-toothed boy, and not by Aamir Khan. Hell, that WAS supposed to be the USP.
- Agreed, Aamir Khan is not in every second frame. But why, oh why, does there have to be a child in every damn frame he is in, as if he’s some ChachaNehru-wannabe?
- It’s an hour-and-a-half into the movie that the first mention of the word “dyslexia” is made. And overall, it’s mentioned TWICE in the movie.
- Why does a “different” movie have to burst into irrelevant song and dance – whoops, montage – every five minutes? Or was it supposed to be a “different” kind of “different”?
- All in all, it feels like being murdered with a blunt knife, what with the typical Aamir-style long-drawn-out scenes. Like take the last half an hour for example. The kid is learning his spellings. That’s new to the audience. The parents are amazed at the report card. That’s expected, but fine nevertheless. Why the stabyard art competition whose results are a mystery to no one? Just to drive home the point teachers can’t draw?
Documentary… where did that come from, you ask? Aamir Khan’s lecture to the kid’s parents reminded me of those family planning or girl-child-is-also-a-human-being short films that used to be shown on Doordarshan. It really surprised me some arbit art teacher was the only one in the entire spectrum to realize it was dyslexia – any school Principal worth her salt needs to have finished a B.Ed course, and Learning Disorders is an essential part of any such course – That kid’s first Principal should have been the one giving the lecture, instead of saying “shaayad ise koi problem hai… kuchch bachche badnaseeb hote hain, aise bachchon ke liye alag se special schools hote hain”. What the hell was she implying there?
And… in spite of portraying the mother as someone who listens to her child, atleast more than anyone else, how come the question “Why aren’t you able to read and write?” figure even once? Wouldn’t that have solved the problem, as any urban parent, however ignorant, would have taken their child to a psychologist if such behaviour kept repeating? Or wouldn’t atleast the school have suggested it? Or if it was a posh enough school, wouldn’t they have their own in-house child psychologist? And for godsake, the kid says he “sees the letters dancing”. And no one found that a cause for concern? I mean… when Anjali Khanna was eight years old, she was reading long long letters from her mum, and thinking up ideas to create a spark between her daddy and Anjali-aunty.
I received a forward which wondered how Taare Zameen Par would have been if anyone else had directed it – Farah Khan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Rakesh Roshan.. the usual suspects. But more than Aamir Khan, I’d've preferred someone like Shyam Benegal or Shekhar Kapoor had directed the movie. I watched Masoom very long back, and the sensitivity with which the children were portrayed was mindblowing. You would actually feel the tears welling up when the kid was going away.
If the movie was indeed about creating awareness about dyslexia, it would have been a better watch if it was a documentary with all the extra chaff removed, like the songs, and the Aamir Khan scenes, the kid-getting-into-trouble scenes, the yelling-daddy scenes. It could be one of those public-service documentaries in the style of School Chalein Hum or the ones we see about AIDS awareness. Oh, yes, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy could still have composed background music… methinks they held Aamir at atknife-point to give them more scope in the making of the movie. It could still be a tasteful one with nice long speeches about Einstein, Da Vinci, Agatha Christie and Edison being dyslexic (IMO, that was the best bit of the whole movie), with the kid learning words and letters with other aids….
So what irks me the most is the kid and the Art teacher take center stage, and dyslexia seems almost incidental to the movie. The reason the movie brings a tear to the eye is because it portrays the underdog, it portrays his everyday suffering in ways that remind you of something similar you might have faced, and last but not the least, it portrays a superhero who saves the kid from a life of unmitigated torture – not even once do you feel that the kid is putting in as much or more effort than Mr. Khan in learning his lessons.
*Sigh* But I guess that’s expected when you’re dealing with a superstar who thinks not twice before playing a college dude when he’s twice the age of the average college-goer. Or when making a big-budget movie with many superegos clashing. All in all, the product is Aamir Khan, and the packaging is Children, Christmas Release, and Dyslexia… There! I’ve mentioned dyslexia more often than is mentioned in the movie.
And that is another reason a NFDC-sponsored documentary directed by Kanika-Bala or Vishal Bharadwaj would have been a better flick.
Addendum: It really irks me when the “system” and “establishment” are portrayed in movies as ineffectual in solving problems they are designed to combat, in situations where the opposite is true.
Addendum 2: If you’ve watched this movie, check out the following Calvin and Hobbes comic strips:
Remind you of anything?
And NO! Calvin is NOT dyslexic. He can write “Aliens Land Here” with Christmas lights and “My dad is a …” in the snow.
Addendum 3: If you thought this [Referring to the scene the comic strips might have reminded you of] was pretty original of Aamir Khan, maybe you should also know that the infamous beer scene from Rang De Basanti is from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Hmm…. maybe I should just feel happy he reads.
Addendum 4: Aamir Khan says Da Vinci wrote in mirror letters because he was dyslexic! It’s widely known that the backward writing was a “secret code” thanks to Dan Brown’s seminal work. But scholars are also of the view that since Da Vinci was left-handed, he wrote right-to-left to avoid smudging the ink. And no, I’m not holding this against the movie. I only hate misinformation.
Addendum 5: I don’t harbour any illusions of this being a balanced review, and would prefer it if you reading this didn’t, either. I wrote this five minutes after being through with the movie, and these were the only impressions that stuck. While I don’t have issues with others saying that the movie is good, and that they liked it, I’ll be the first one to protest if India decides to send this to the Oscars. And probably the only, but that’s to be expected.
So I’m Jobless now. F-I-N-A-L-L-Y jobless. And making completely sure nothing upsets the status until a week into the New Year.
I haven’t watched Taare Zameen Par, and this time my intense hatred of Aamir Khan and his “different” movies [1947-Earth was F-art masquerading as Art. Dil Chahta Hai was F-art masquerading as SM-art. Fanaa.... nothing different... Dil Se did the same thing ages ago, RDB was a dumbed-down version of a Gaptain movie] that happen once a year has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with it.
And another reason is the Cold. It reminds me of a Captain Planet episode where it was snowing at the Equator, and it wasn’t the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Now I’m waiting for Gaia the Spirit of the Earth (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) to send me my Magic Ring…. Till then, you can find me snuggled underneath layers of blankets and woolies, waking up only when the sun is pretty high up in the sky. On the odd occasion I did wake up early, I went for a jog around Mini-Forest, and came back all soaked… and great as my luck always is, there was no power to use the hairdryer…. a-ti-shoo!
I can’t seem to WALK in Jayanagar 4th Block anymore… it’s so crowded, it feels like any movement from place to place seems like a result of crowd momentum… something like those birds that fly in formation so that the weaker ones can fly at a good speed even without spending so much energy. Makes it incredibly difficult when you are walking with a framed glass-painting and extra glass sheets for future paintings, more so when they are for your sister who’s holding it against you that you were two minutes late in getting to the book on glass painting that someone else took it.
And WHAT sort of people! Apart from the usuals, like the Laughter Club ajjas, there seem to be a lot of people of the third gender. I’ve lived most of my life getting lost in 4th Block Complex, and the first-ever time I saw an eunuch was on a train stuck somewhere in Gult-land… and now the place is positively swarming with them! And no, they are not the benign sort who stand for elections or cook biryani at Koovagam. Extortionists, that’s what they are. They don’t spare anyone, not even the lads behind the counter of Subway, or KFC, or Domino’s, or even Davangere Benne Dose. Why, I saw three of them, so impeccably dressed that you’ll think they were going to their job at a bank, extort cash from a couple of unsuspecting boys from Vijaya Junior!
I’ve slowly started getting peeved with the rise in prices of books, even Rupa and Penguin cost hell lot these days. So much that I’m willing to download ebooks, or buy stuff pirated, and I don’t mean only one-time reads like Dan Brown or assorted Chick-Lit. I’ve found there’s no point of banning anything, especially not books, coz I find some thousand copies of Satanic Verses on eSnips. And the problem is, that is the ONLY Rushdie book I find free for download online, and occasionally Midnight’s Children or Fury.
So I was at the Strand Book Festival at Chinnaswamy Stadium, and couldn’t for the hell of me find anything I wanted, least of all Rushdie. And there weren’t any assistants in uniforms walking around the aisles. And just as well. The aisles were really narrow and crowded. So much that you couldn’t turn around without upsetting atleast one pile of books… and bending to pick them up only caused others to trip and go flying. I went up to the billing counter, and in my politest voice, I asked the man there, “Do you people here have Shame?”. His double take made me add, “Salman Rushdie.. novel…”.
To add to this, I was with a young cousin of mine, someone who is almost as good as me when it comes to knocking down stacks of books. Apart from that, the normally well-behaved kid can’t keep his hands off books, and has to finger everything. And having a clumsy AND bossy older sister around didn’t in the least help him….. me and him proved to be a lethal combination for people who tripped, who tripped us…. And also for nosy senior citizens. One of them wanted to know what I thought of Kancha Ilaiah, when we both were looking through copies of his latest bit of tripe, and then was surprised I had such strong opinions against him…. and said I was too young. Another asked my geeky bro to not go through the book on Network Security, as it would be a negative influence and make him a spammer. Or worse, someone who spread viruses, a black-hat hacker. Bro muttered something about Linux and hence no viruses, and won a free appointment to install Ubuntu on the old-timer’s antique system.
And so I was pretty frustrated at the end of it all, and when I was paying for the stuff we bought, I saw this young man plunge his hand into the middle of a carton piled high with tiny books that taught the Alphabet, causing a dozen to fall into a pool of dirty stinking water below. “Young man,” I said indignantly, as I picked up the fallen books, “I’m never ever bringing you anywhere again. Never. And if I forget, remind me”. At which point I turned behind and saw that bro was digging into Tintin, nowhere near the counter, and there was a little boy near me, with his face buried in his mother’s saree.
Since this morning, my usual routine of channel surfing (Zapping) has been rudely interrupted by the Gujarat Elections. Yeah, so the BJP was on its way to a two-thirds majority. Surely that is not something extremely surprising, or something that has never happened before, or so interesting that all 40 Indian news channels would stop all news about kids falling into ditches, or the latest Bollywood lyrics which offended animists in East Timor. Or have SRK’s six-pack get less screenspace due to the screen filled with popups about how and where which party was leading. The whole damn day dedicated to discussing Modi? “Rock-star Status”, as some analyst said, is right. I found some site dedicated to Mr. Modi… this one goes too far.. there are even Modi Wallpapers and Screensavers! Great heavens, I don’t think even his fellow Gujarati (from Valsad), Mr. Farrokh Bulsara has such honor.
That apart, it was fun watching Margaret Alva go red in the face, when Rajdeep Sardesai asked her “Modi seems to be incorruptible… isn’t it something you must learn?”. “What do you mean!”, she yelled, and corrected herself with a hurried “I mean… it’s something everyone must learn…”, before she went on to say that Modi appeals to the middle class, and rural areas and tribal areas would have not done well, just before Mr. Sardesai went on to show that Saurashtra, Kutch, and other tribal regions were exactly where BJP had made some big gains, and ousted the sitting Congress MPs.
It’s holiday season now, as we can judge by the large amount of red clothes lined with white fur that we can see all around…. I wonder how it is Down Under, in Oz? Anyway, here’s wishing everyone great holidays, in the words of John Lennon,
So happy Christmas,
And a Happy New Year!
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear.