Dyslexia… Give me a documentary any day!

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:

Calvin and Hobbes Spaceman Spiff Math ClassCalvin and Hobbes Spaceman Spiff Math ClassCalvin and Hobbes Spaceman Spiff Math Class

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.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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67 Responses to Dyslexia… Give me a documentary any day!

  1. Aravind says:

    Hmmm… I do agree that there are fragments borrowed from elsewhere, and a few silly instances. But, the thing to appreciate is that someone could forget ‘love’ for once, and look at something new. And, do you really think all teachers these days have good training? Though it is unlikely in this case that it was a bad school, I believe there are lots of schools where teachers have no formal training. Education’s is just another business today. Looking at this whole article, I think you are very much prejudiced against Aamir Khan πŸ™‚

  2. agree in some, but disagree in many – i dont think dyslexia even playes a part in the movie – the main spot light is the need of parents to understand the problems of love and bridge the gap between them. Dyslexia was used just as a tool – IMHO.
    abt the C&H strip – any one who reads C&H will make it out, but i felt it really added a laugh, so, IMHO, it was ok.
    For me, the movie was a gentle reminder to parents about understanding their children in the right way, and it really did drive home the point.
    The vlaue of the movie varies for each and every one, depending on their perspective. But, a commendable effort from amir’s part, i say.

  3. kaushik says:

    Well said
    If the movie was actually about telling parents about dyslexia, then it should have been a documentary. Even otherwise, I felt it was a tad too long, and only focussed on the disease…..they showed for 2 hrs that the boy is troubled, and one song, where he writes 8 a few times, and he is so full of confidence

    But still a different theme needs to be appreciated πŸ™‚

  4. wanderlust says:

    Yes, I agree. But why do people think just a departure from the “love” theme is enough? Can’t they go a bit further? Like, look at a Makdee or Deham or Drohkaal… you need to do justice to whatever you take up.
    I concede that the movie does have its pluses, but they have been mentioned so much elsewhere that it’d just be redundant to mention them here.
    Education might be a business, but that competition also drives schools to enforce quality control. Teachers are paid well these days (I’m talking about private institutions), and most of them have a counselor or a child psychologist working atleast part time if not full-time. They also have regular training programs, seminars and stuff like that for teachers to keep themselves updated.
    Of course, this does not necessarily include any of the two-penny neglected centers for primary education.
    I’d not say “This was a bad portrayal”, but I’d say “It could have been a more accurate portrayal”. The venom comes from the prejudice against Aamir Khan. One-film-a-year does not necessarily make for quality cinema. And all of his films are very anti-society in my opinion – Fanaa – too sympathetic a portrayal of a terrorist… I don’t think we can now consider any terrorist a human being. RDB – very wrong messages to the youth. Mangal Pandey – lots of inaccuracies, apart from a very badly made movie. Lagaan – too much hero-giri… it’s more of a story of one imbecile than of an entire village… of COURSE it stood no chance against No Man’s Land.
    Love and care? I get the feeling his mum and bro were giving enough of that. And it’s not like just love and care would have solved the problem…. it’s being touted as the poster-movie for dyslexia, a new hope for dyslexics…. there’s no denying the mileage it has got out of the disorder.
    No one expects any movie to be completely original. I don’t grudge that gag in the movie. I’d only like to remove any misconception that might arise about Aamir Khan’s superior intellect and imagination.
    And it also makes good copy for the trivia mill…
    too many people have appreciated the new theme. anything i say on that would be redundant. and i wouldn’t like to appreciate anything Aamir Khan does… it’s against my prejudices πŸ˜›
    I didn’t think the day would come when I say this, but I prefer well-made movies which deliver what they promise to movies that are simply “different”, but don’t live up to what they promise.

  5. ish says:

    Wow, I had absolutely no clue that the entire planet scene was copied from Calvin and Hobbes! I thought it was a rather cool idea. Gee.

  6. wanderlust says:

    it still is a very cool idea.

  7. Aravind says:

    I’m not saying it’s a great movie. But, it definitely doesn’t deserve the battering you gave! πŸ™‚ At least I hadn’t come across anything else with such a theme (I concede I haven’t seen many movies / documentaries).
    And I believe you haven’t seen many schools. There are schools in almost every street in Bangalore. I’m sure a majority of them don’t have a notion of quality control.
    I’m no fan of Aamir Khan. I just thought you were being far too critical…

  8. ish says:

    Yeah but it’s a copied cool idea so it becomes less cooler doesn’t it?

  9. the Monk says:

    In the final analysis, what matters is that a lot of people have liked the movie and, who knows, a few may actually pay a little more attention to children than they normally would. I doubt a documentary on DD/Discovery would have had the same effect.

  10. Nitin Rao says:

    I guess there are many ways of looking at it – and this appears to be a narrow one.

    I thought Taare Zameen Par was an excellent movie.

  11. wanderlust says:

    Dunno…. Black/the story of Helen Keller was something similar. But yeah, I too haven’t come across any other movies about learning disorders.
    the school in the movie didn’t in the least seem tinpot. the second one even seemed to be of very good quality with well-qualified teachers.
    Yes, I agree it appears that I’m being very critical of the movie. That’s because I haven’t stopped to mention anything positive at all. But that given, the movie really failed to move me, even though I watched it without any expectations, in the best possible frame of mind.. and I wrote this just five minutes after i was done with the movie.
    it might make aamir khan’s intellect seem less cooler, but i suppose the clip by itself is good as it animates a really nice episode from a comic strip.
    @the Monk:
    What about Mile Sur Mera Tumhara? or the AIDS clips with big stars? Goli Ki Humjoli? Or even Balbir Pasha? and NFDC doesn’t immediately translate into DD – watch Deeksha.
    Have you watched Bang Bang, You’re Dead?
    it’s not exactly a remote possibility that such a movie wouldn’t have been as widely watched.
    My point was different. I was talking about the style of filmmaking – I mentioned different directors who might have made the movie better too – Kanika-Bala and Vishal Bharadwaj, or Shekhar Kapur.
    I would have preferred the movie to deal more directly with the issue at hand, and not go off on draggy tangents. And Bang Bang You’re Dead does a good job in that department.
    Yes, I did focus only on the negatives. While the things I have criticized are only a small part of the movie, and looking only at them would seem “narrow”, they were enough to ruin it for me.

  12. Arjun says:

    THANK you!! The exact same thoughts, I had, even while I was watching it. And blatantly ripping off Calvin and Hobbes. What shit.

    The beer scene was from War and peace? I don’t do thousand page books unless they’re LoTR.

    You hit it on the head, it was like some ’80s documentary, educating people about dyslexia. There should be a limit to how stupid he thinks people are. Making something like this for free and distributing/broadcasting it on DD would be one thing. Charging urban, educated people for it is just wrong.

    I thought the songs were amazing. What the heavy metal riffs, what the distortion-filled guitaring, what the funky electronic music. Whatte!

    You should hear the people in my company. “Ooh, I was crying only.” “Front row, we were all crying buckets.” “So touching, ya.” “Every parent should see it.”

    I feel sad for myself sometimes.

    And I feel happy that I’m not the only one who thinks Aamir Khan thinks too much of himself. He should get better. Or just retire.

  13. wanderlust says:

    wow, someone finally shares my view!
    the beer scene figures within fifty pages. and in the book it’s vodka. I haven’t managed to get beyond seventy-eighty pages of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, though someday i would really love to.
    the songs are nice by themselves, but it’s a Taare Zameen Par being made, not Aaja Nachle or the Laila-Majnu play that happens in Aaja Nachle. Or a Bombay Dreams.
    Aamir Khan got a contract with a tissue co. for this movie. The reason people cry is because they show unfair stuff happening to the kid… stuff that some people might identify with…. such things happen not only to dyslexic kids or the “loser” kids… every kid, even the geeky ones or the popular ones go through bullying, nightmares, fights, unfair scoldings from mum and dad.
    I don’t quite mind that Aamir Khan thinks too much of himself. What I feel sad about is that everyone thinks too much of him. Just because his movies are touted as “different”… his is an acquired “cool”.. the same way people would watch a Madhur Bhandarkar movie with blood and gore and unmitigated swearing for two hours and say “he shows the reality” and in the same breath denounce Farz or Zor which shows more or less the same thing, albeit with more honesty.
    I wouldn’t hate Aamir’s movies so much if they weren’t so pretentious.

  14. the Monk says:

    Friend Priya, not everybody in India has

    a.) access to movies such as those you mentioned

    b.) such discerning taste as yours.

    Aamir Khan’s directorial debut may not be good enough for _you_, but for the man on the street who does not watch the movie in PVR /INOX/the LAN, it provides both entertainment and perhaps a little food for thought. A lot of people might have watched the movie simply because it is an Aamir Khan movie. For them, isn’t a movie like this a bonus? It is possible, nay, probable that Aamir Khan’s movies have a wider reach than Shekhar Kapur’s or those sundry other directors you mentioned.

  15. wanderlust says:

    Monk sir,
    Masoom used to be an integral part of Children’s Day on Doordarshan, before it got replaced by Mani Ratnam’s Anjali.
    Deeksha was shot by NFDC, stars Nana Patekar. It is about untouchablity AND widow remarriage. It keeps coming frequently on one of those slots in local DD channels like Podhigai and Chandana reserved for movies in a different language telecast with English subtitles.
    Drohkaal got remade in Tamil as Kurudhipunal, starring Kamal Haasan and Arjun Sarja. It is telecast in Tamil channels every now and then and also during Independence day/Republic Day/Gandhi Jayanthi/Martyrs’ Day.
    Bang Bang You’re Dead is a movie based on a play, which is available free for download on the Net.
    As far as I can see, these are more easily accessible than TZP, which most people will anyway watch at INOX/PVR or as in my case, the LAN, or on cable paying obscene amounts in the former two cases, and abetting piracy in the latter two.
    Shekhar Kapur is the guy behind Masoom and Mr. India. The “sundry other directors”… Kanika-Bala are behind the Vande Mataram videos by AR Rehman and also the School Chalein Hum video, Vishal Bharadwaj is the Omkara/Makdee guy.
    Karan Johar was an unknown when Kuch Kuch Hota Hai released.
    star power doesn’t have much influence on a good and well-made movie, like we’ve seen with Bheja Fry, Jhankaar Beats and a lot of other movies.
    In my opinion, if Aamir Khan has such a large reach, shouldn’t he be responsible enough to provide quality entertainment for the masses? Just because they’ll watch anything he’ll dish out isn’t reason enough to be satisfied with the crap he dishes out.
    And if he’s the one setting standards, he should ensure they are high, that would morally be the right thing to do.
    One example here would be RadioCity Bangalore. Not many bothered listening to western music before Radiocity hit the airwaves. Suddenly Meese Madaiah could count Backstreet Boys, Simply Red, GnR, Aerosmith and Floyd as his favorites along with Gurukiran, Hamsalekha, Uppi and Ilayaraja. If you don’t expose people to quality, or atleast variety, give them a choice, how do you expect them to expect anything else or have a discerning taste?
    The man on the street shouldn’t stand such assaults on estimates of his intelligence. He is entitled to better, and should not fear to ask for it. On the other hand….

  16. Tuna Fish says:

    Firstly, I think you are confusing a mainstream cinema with parallel cinema. It IS a big change from the usual crap that bolly spouts out.

    I dont think you do any good to the child if you tell him “you are suffering from dyslexia” The word is mentioned 1.5 hrs later, only cuz some one discovers that he is suffering from it only then. And I think the dyslexia-aware audience can understand the theme in the start of the movie itself when the screen is flooded with letters. (although I agree his mum could have spotted the pattern.)

    And NO. Most people find documentaries boring. This will do the job better.

  17. wanderlust says:

    i don’t see where i’m confusing mainstream and parallel cinema.
    That apart, there is no such thing as parallel cinema anymore.
    Just Shekhar Kapur or Shyam Benegal is no indication of parallel cinema: I mean, these are the guys who’ve given us Mr. India with Sridevi in a blue saree dancing in the rain, and karishma kapoor in Zubeidaa, with that really popular soundtrack, and starcast.
    and NFDC has been behind a good number of popular movies, like jaane bhi do yaaron, and Godmother.
    There’s only good and bad cinema now.
    I’m not sure it’s inherently for the worse if a child is aware of how his learning patterns are different from the others’.
    the movie doesn’t talk too much about dealing with dyslexia, that’s my grouse.
    everyone knows the movie is about dyslexia – it’s been hyped, and talked about it assorted interviews.
    Fahrenheit 9/11 is a documentary.
    for that matter, even some mainstream movies are boring…. all you need is a good director and a good script.
    I was talking more of that style of filmmaking – i shouldn’t have said documentary film, it should have been “awareness film”. And documentaries/awareness flicks CAN have stars. They CAN have music. What they CAN’T have is irrelevant tangents.
    Which TZP could have very well done without.

  18. Arjun says:

    Irrelevant Tangents — there’s a good band name for you. Probably populated and appreciated only by gay mathematicians, but whatever.

  19. prabhat, says:

    Dude, were you also dyslexic in your younger days? (just kiddin coz u r thinkin beyond the track) I have gone through several reviews of the TZP but never came across like this one. Well written n valid points but i feel that the brand of aamir khan has taken it to larger mass than a documentary film. I guess, I am seeing half glass of water as half filled n u r looking it as half empty. πŸ˜›

  20. wanderlust says:

    yeah, sounds like a college band from Chennai Mathematical Institute, whose members also read Calvin and Hobbes (that’s where i got the expression from), watch Monty Python and have debates on kafka, whose songs are all about existential angst peppered with mathematical puns, and perform in assorted War of the Bands contests, and get written about in the city supplements….. wow, now there’s an irrelevant tangent for you!
    hey… maybe the band can have a (fe)male member called secant C…. or that can be another bandname…..
    There was some christ college play i remember which was called “square root of minus one”…. i guess that sounds more geekily glamorous than Iota.
    Why gay?
    i disagree. A movie just needs good PR and a great publicity agent to “take the message to the masses”.

  21. Monkey, the Spunky one. Ooh. says:

    I haven’t seen TZP, and I do think Aamir is overhyped. Method acting, my ass. He did Mela, and there I rest my case.

    Talking of Mathematician Musicians, have you seen Proof? The play-turned-into-a-film that had Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anthony God Hopkins? That had Jake, playing in a band, “sing” a song called “i”. They announce the name of the song and then shut up. For some 3 minute 14 seconds (I think), chumma to add some more “funda”. Ayyo only. But I love the film.
    Mathematicians are weird.

    I love the entire discussion above. You go girl, you!

  22. wanderlust says:

    Spunky Monkey,
    Mela came before the geezer “reinvented” himself with dil chahta hai. And after that was his one-film-a-year stance. But even then if you judge by the films that came after that, you can still say “method acting, my ass. He did Mangal Pandey, and there I rest my case”.
    I wiki’d proof… seems pretty ok. Chumma funda only that is, total Ayyo material. Just like A Beautiful Mind and The Good Will Hunting. Though the latter is a LOT better, if you ignore a few bits of Robin Williams.
    wow, thanks man.. you make me smile.

  23. Arjun says:

    ‘…watch Monty Python…’

    Watch it, even I love Monty Python. Anyway, about the publicity and the PR, Shah Rukh did very well with Om Shanti Om, to take that self-indulgent movie to ‘the masses.’ Everyone was rushing to the theatres to watch it. Sadly, being employed and no more in college, I am now obligated to go watch these movies legitimately. That still doesn’t stop me from occasionally going to National market and buying po..Fellini. But the point is, being endowed with skills that enable him to go beyond ‘See, I am a method actor. I get into the skin of the character. I am going to do only one film per year. I protest the construction of the Sardar Sarovar thing on the Narmada. I will educate the masses about a NEW disease which they already know about, but which I discovered only yesterday and went, wow, that’s some powerful shit,’ Shah Rukh Khan built up the hype really, admirably well for his movie and got everyone off their lazy behinds and into the theatres. I never saw one interview where Aamir came off looking as savvy as the other Khan did. Maybe it’s just my anti-Aamir prejudice, as some people call it.

    Secant C? Wow, you are an engineer.

  24. wanderlust says:

    monty python is brilliant… they inspired the beatles to write songs like bungalow bill, and make movies like yellow submarine. Do you also watch Not the Nine o’clock News? it is the next-gen successor to monty python.
    The best thing about SRK is his honesty about what he does, and no funny ideas about himself. He acts, he delivers, he plays to the crowds. And Aamir isn’t slick and doesn’t sound well-read, but pretends to be so (which gets on my nerves), and he is not some Rajit Kapoor or Dev Benegal that he can carry off the serious filmmaker image with panache.
    I think the “method actor” bit is just a publicity stunt. I think his “getting into the skin of his character” involves staring into space, cheating on one wife after the other, trying on new obnoxious hairstyles and mistreating his mentally unsound brother. Oh, and maintaining that godawful blog of his, which uses not some sensible blogging software…
    SRK is simply more committed. He has worked from the lower rungs to where he is now… Check out clips of “In which annie gives it those ones”… independent movie, arundhati roy.. really awesome dialogues and even better acting.

    >>Wow, you are an engineer.
    And a very jobless one at that.
    you are techie too?

  25. Arjun says:

    Haven’t watched the whole of ‘Not the Nine o’clock news.’ Just bits. Gerald, the talking gorilla, General Synod’s Life of Christ –> brilliant.

    Exactly, Aamir Khan thinking too much of himself is grating. He has a blog? God save the Internet.

    Shahrukh Khan also does the ‘thinking a little too much of himself’ bit sometimes, but that’s only to piss people off. And it’s funny. I guess we forgive things if they’re funny enough.

    That’s not the point. The point is, Aamir irritates. And how.

    I am also techie. We are all techie.

  26. wanderlust says:

    on youtube, check out “not the parrot”, “beekeeping” – rowan atkinson and john cleese, “constable savage”, “four yorkshiremen”, “conservative conference”…. makes me rue we don’t have such a culture in India. sketch comedy isn’t explored much here.

    to cut a long story short, Aamir Khan is a PSEUD. SRK is a real star, more real than even Amitabh Bachchan who doesn’t seem to have a personality beyond his movies.

    The “thinking too much” bit is carried off by SRK with such panache, i don’t think anyone else can do it, not even Amitabh.. “I’m too goodlooking to be in politics”.. “Yeah, Rahul Gandhi looks good, but I have a six-pack”…. sounds irreverant, but everyone knows it’s not so. He feels like just one of us, not some God-type superstar like AB or some dude who thinks his intelligence transcends everyone else’s like Aamir.

    Aamir Khan’s blog doesn’t use any reputed blogging software. it’s the shoddiest i’ve come across… the pages don’t even have title tags! Check it out for yourself – http://www.aamirkhan.com/blog.htm
    Why can’t he chumma use WordPress dot org? it is no problem even for the technologically challenged! And he can even remove the “Proudly powered by WordPress” at the footer if he wants.

    We are mostly techie…. there are few like the Medic Monkey Man, and Malaveeka future lawyer.
    Now that you mentioned it, i just looked at my blogroll and it seems to have hardly any non-engineers on it.

  27. Arjun says:

    Seen those sketches. Except ‘Constable Savage’ and ‘Conservative conference.’

    In India, The Great Indian comedy show tried to do a sketch show. They were reasonably successful. And pretty good too. But not to the extent of Python.

    What’s with that blog? Somehow, he hasn’t quite got into the skin of the blogger yet.

  28. dushy says:

    Whatever Priya,
    This movie was taken well.I mean the boy artiste was emote with his feelings.And the songs were again good.
    With no PREJUDICE in my mind ,I can say this was much better than a masala OSO,sad SAAWARIYA,bad PARTNER,ayyo BABY and the rest!

  29. wanderlust says:

    oh… yes… i remember a few with ranvir shorey. pretty good, those were.

    Check out the fan comments on that blog.
    yeah, but aamir khan is bleddy irritating. OSO is a lot more pleasant to watch, lot less sermonizing, lot less angst against the system for all the wrong reasons. Saawariya, Partner, Heyy Babyy and all are too idiotic to even enter this discussion.

  30. Ruhi says:


    thank god I’m not the only “mad” person who didn’t like this movie! is all this nonsense justifiable just because the audience ‘expects’ it?! I really think he used those kids to make his audience cry. And you gave a perfect example of Masoom– everything was so subtle in that movie, yet your heart swells with tears when you see the poor boy longing for his mom! That’s perfect and not TZP!

    Thanks a lot for posting that cartoon. I’m editing my post to include that, and crediting you with it. πŸ™‚

    PS- People need to see movies made on children by the great Iranian director , Majid MAjidi and then realize that we don’t need to see disabled kids dancing for 10 minutes to cry.

  31. Pingback: Review: Taare Zameen Par « Time and Again

  32. Malaveeka says:

    @Arjun: Dyslexia is not a disease.

    @Priya: Why so angry?

  33. wanderlust says:

    @ Ruhi:
    Yes, totally! he used kids to make the audience cry and FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE.
    I haven’t watched any Iranian movies, but from what I’ve heard, the Iranian film industry turns out some of the best movies about kids in the world. closer home, we have Shekhar Kapur… it does take a lot to handle some dozen kids in Mr. India, and a couple in Masoom… there’s also Mani Ratnam… his Kannathil Muthamittaal and Anjali are absolutely brilliant… now there’s one movie about autism everyone – yes, even every parent – should see, as well as it having lots of fun moments for kids.
    @ Malaveeka:
    whattodo, it gets on my nerves to see someone like Aamir Khan be such a phenomenon.

  34. Ruhi says:

    I agree! Anjali, Mr. India, Masoom…all brilliantly made movies. I didn’t know that Mani Ratnam had made Anjali. I haven’t seen Kannathil because I don’t understand tamil. But yeah…all this Aamir bhakti is getting on to my nerves now!

  35. the Monk says:

    Eh, no point. As one B. Russell, in his infinite wisdom, put it so eloquently: The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is the delight of moralists everywhere.

    I need coffee.

  36. Arjun says:

    [Monk] That was deep.

    [Priya] ‘Children of heaven’ — Majid Majidi. Amith music heaven. Shop no. 85. National Market. Rupees 50 only.

  37. wanderlust says:

    “aamir bhakti”… i like the way you put it πŸ™‚
    @the Monk:
    if you choose to look at it that way….
    nice quote anyway. i’ll use it sometime.
    thanks… you seem pretty clued in to global entertainment.

  38. Amyth says:


    That was quite an observation. Although i clearly remember having seen this Calvin strip.. but the part in the movie looked natural.. and surprisingly oroginal!!

    having said that, I have no complaints form the movie.. It was a nice watch.. it had a message and stuck to it! … As for Aamit as director and actor, perceptions vary… Different strokes for different folks! πŸ™‚ … Liked your review!

  39. Amyth says:


    That was quite an observation. Although i clearly remember having seen this Calvin strip.. but the part in the movie looked natural.. and surprisingly oroginal!!

    having said that, I have no complaints form the movie.. It was a nice watch.. it had a message and stuck to it! … As for Aamir as director and actor, perceptions vary… Different strokes for different folks! πŸ™‚ … Liked your review!

  40. Arjun says:

    I am. Having dispensable income and few good friends helps.

  41. wanderlust says:

    what message… aamir is hero?

  42. Tony says:

    Yes some kids are just dumb… we have special movies for them! “all hot girls put your hands up and say om shanti om! “

  43. wanderlust says:

    @ajith kumar:
    i quite agreed with your review…. you’ve mentioned a lot of things i forgot to mention.
    okay.. so you say dyslexic kids are “dumb”? :-O *gasp*

    and i guess farah khan would be pretty happy if her movie would be liked by the likes of einsten, agatha christie, edison and da vinci.

  44. Tony says:

    Sigh! no i called you dumb and you sure proved me wrong with your amazing comprehension!

  45. wanderlust says:

    i can call you pseud, vile, vitriolic, misguided, narrow-minded, closed-minded, insecure, immature, ignorant, deluded, uncomprehending, perverted, violent, with a degrading attitude to women, and generally stupid apart from being a sucky writer, and you’ll prove me right on all counts every time you say, do, write or set anything.

    kindly carry out your vendettas elsewhere. my blog is for debate, not for argument.

    if you found that too hard to comprehend, here it is: take your rotten filthy paws off my blog.

  46. Arjun says:

    [Tony and Wanderlust] Whoa, Itchy, Scratchy, calm down!

  47. Yashodhara says:

    Hi there…Found your post by doing a google search on Calvin and dyslexia because I actually began to wonder if Calvin is dyslexic!

    Just posted on this myself – was also disapointed in the movie but still thought that it can make a huge difference to the way people think – I know it affected me that way ( at least that’s what i feel today – who knows if the message will stick!)

    I like your spunk.

  48. GPA says:

    You’re probably right about you preferring a documentary because from what character traits you reveal in your posts, you’re a stickler for facts, and I wouldn’t be surprised if all the conjectural counter examples that you’ve provided in your post are products of subsequent research and not pieces of information that you possessed during the movie.

    But anyway, what touched the masses,and continues to touch us (safely assuming more people think that this movie is the best one ever made, as opposed to those who don’t) is the fact that just like the ‘visually literal’ portrayal of how Khan choose to tackle disability with an infusion of tactile references to numbers and letters, this movie connects with you at a personal level, what with each kid realizing how hard he has to work at something before it sinks in–and I’m not necessarily speaking only about the dyslexic here. Then there’s the touching portrayal of the attachment to one’s mother. Rationale concerning his mother’s seeming ignorance about his specific problem might seem elusive to find at first, but you do realize that people confronted with problems often go into denial, and a false sense of perception that panacea lies with some short term remedy (in the movie’s case, enforcing discipline) rather than willing to accept that there’s a principal ‘fault’ with themselves.

    But then again, you have the poetic license to interpret these veiled messages as you wish, and I’m not going to try and convince you. It just intrigues me to find examples in life where detailed analysis and contemplation ruin real beauty.

  49. wanderlust says:

    the mere publicity of dyslexia will make people think… i mean, that’s a Given. you have aamir as much as mouthing ‘dyslexia’, half of the country sits up and takes notice. he might as well have said ‘i like dire straits’ or ‘acromegaly is a dangerous disease’ and that would have got as much attention.
    there’s so much the movie could have touched on. there’s so much of a positive message it could have given without demonizing anyone. it could have reaffirmed faith in the system. it could have done without the tearjerker crap. it could have… the list is endless.
    >>all the conjectural counter examples that you’ve provided in your post are products of subsequent research and not pieces of information that you possessed during the movie.
    Like i said elsewhere, I wrote this review five minutes after i was done watching the movie. I’d just finished reading ten years’ worth of C&H a week back, so I knew about the cartoon. My mum recently did her B.Ed degree, so I know how much they are taught about learning disorders. i read the first few pages of war and peace a year ago, that’s how i know about the beer scene being a ripoff. I’ve also read the Da Vinci Code, and i’ve done subsequent reading on leonardo, that’s how i know of why he wrote in mirror letters. All this muuch before i even planned to watch the movie.
    Any other issues there?
    tactile senses… that was like ONE song. a better director would have gone over in detail about how dyslexics are taught… maybe for a half hour at the lowest? mother… _have_ you watched kannathil muthamittal? and mother just vanishes into the background in the latter half.. has nothing to do with improving her kid after nikumbh-sir takes over. her character and her reactions could have been explored further… but no! we need to focus on aamir and his idiocy.
    i repeat, this was a spur-of-the-moment review, not researched in any aspect, and i didnt even make notes during the movie like reviewers normally do.
    real beauty is what would appear more and more beautiful on contemplation, on analysis…. unless you’re one of those science-haters who think learning about diffraction ruins your experience of a sunset or looking at a rainbow and thinking of refraction is a sure-shot sign that you can’t appreciate beauty.

  50. harish says:

    [For those who haven’t still watched TZP(nothing lost if you haven’t done so), spoilers ahead.]
    After TZP has almost retreated from newspaper reviews, after so much has been written about it in the internet and that too has become quite old, after people even stopped making comments like, ‘Oh you still haven’t wathced Taare Zameen Par? Oh such a great movie. You are life is not worth living if you have not seen that movie’, I watched Taare Zameen Par. Gave it as much an unbiased viewing as I could possibly could after having read so much about it.
    People said first half is ‘different’. I found it cliched. The send-your-trouble-making-kid-to-boarding-school bit has been done to death in our movies and on our television soaps too. Apart from that, it appears too unrealistic to see every single individual in the first half being unsympathetic to the kid. His mother does appear to be sympathetic, but it looks too half-hearted. And then the ‘different’ first half ends.
    The second half was supposed to make me cry till the point I was dehydrated. On the contrary, as you have rightly mentioned, I was to see only documentary stuff for most part of it. And when the problem has been finally recognized by everyone, the most ‘humane’ of arts teachers, Ram Kumar Nikumbh solves it over one song sequence. Now that’s too simplistic. How he deals with the child needed much more detailed treatment. And the ending. It was good if it was just about an underdog winning against all odds, but not when you are dealing with a sensitive topic that this film intends to deal with.
    All in all, you have a film that’s wathcable, but nothing great. Infact it barely manages to be above average.

  51. tushar verma says:

    hate comment no 52: oh what evil words u have written against such a beautiful movie. u must be an insensitive freak. how could you, how could you

  52. Logic Induction says:

    You call yourself an engineer and thinking in logic and all that …bla bla …

    You’re just an IDIOT and HYPOCRITE, who will go down in life with a dowry based marriage, perform illogical ceremonies, write plenty of buggy javascript code, orchestrate office politics and pain fellow engineers !

    go take a hike !

  53. Bala says:

    Thank you for a wonderful piece. I felt too lonely out there being the only one to have hated Taare Zameen Par. Check my review of TZP out here – http://balaji-b.livejournal.com/15423.html

    I share pretty similar sentiments about the movie. And I did not know about the C&H inspiration. Thanks for that.

  54. Well-wisher says:

    It is ironic that for all your disgust at where the Indian media is going these days, your blog is going exactly the same way. There is hardly any original thinking you do, anyhow; in fact, it looks like your opinions are not the result of analysis and thought, but merely one you plucked from the many floating around that agrees best with what you want to be seen as.

  55. Well-wisher says:

    Oh, and there’s a beautiful quote from a mathematician who made a mistake in his conjectures: When so many scholars are busy calculating, is it wrong for one scholar to dream?

    This movie is a dream, in that its function is not to educate, but to inspire- perhaps not to greatness, but at the very least to a little more humanity. It doesn’t matter that those scenes are rip-offs from various sources. To a certain extent, this movie is not about dyslexia per se, it is about how much damage you can do to a child. Dyslexia is merely a plot device. Deus ex Machina, as it were.

    I suppose it only depends on how you see it- you can either choose to look at the good that the film can do, or at the faults, which I doubt are capable of doing much harm.

    It doesn’t really matter, does it, my saying this? Undoubtedly, I can be doing infinitely more useful things, but as Emerson put it so beautifully: Though love repine and reason chafe/There came a voice without reply-/” ‘Tis man’s perdition to be safe/When for the truth he ought to die.”

  56. wanderlust says:

    @logic induction:
    Your comment had me laughing. that’s why i chose to let it stay.

    yours was quite an articulate review.

    strong, strong words. the last line of your first comment, especially. I think I know who you are, and so did a reality check after reading you comment.. and I find your accusation quite untrue. More so with regard to this post.
    If you cared enough to come out with specifics, I’d only be too happy to patiently rebut all your accusations.

    >>It doesn’t matter that those scenes are rip-offs from various sources
    how many times have i said on this post and in the comments section that i don’t care about it being a ripoff, and don’t have any problem with that, other than with ignorant people saying “ohh… how creative aamir is… he thought of that 9X3 himself!”.

    >>This movie is a dream, in that its function is not to educate, but to inspire- perhaps not to greatness, but at the very least to a little more humanity
    I’m pretty sure aamir khan didn’t think as much as you did. If he wanted to inspire humanity, there are a gazillion ways better than showing arbit stuff every damn kid goes through, dyslexia or no dyslexia.

    >>To a certain extent, this movie is not about dyslexia per se
    To a large extent, this movie is not about dyslexia at all. It’s about Aamir Khan the hero, the superman, the understanding, kind, metrosexual male.

    >>how much damage you can do to a child
    It would have been better, wouldn’t it then, to take a perfectly normal kid and then show how much damage is done to him and his self confidence by paapi samaaj?

    >>Dyslexia is merely a plot device
    And that’s why the movie advertizes that bit of it like crazy and rides on that wave to promote itself.

    >>the faults, which I doubt are capable of doing much harm.
    for godsake.. i just got pissed with a movie I watched and wrote about why I don’t think it’s that great on this blog… why do you take it as a personal affront? it’s just a movie and just my opinion.

    >>you can either choose to look at the good
    You seem to be quite desperate to find some good in the movie that you go from the logical to the dreamy. I’m getting bored of replying to your perspective on this, as it isn’t challenging to do so in the least. your arguments are all paper tigers.

  57. Pingback: Drona « The NITK Numbskulls Page

  58. neha says:

    my gosh…how can this movie be bashed like this…you people are so preliterate…every day in schools across the world, children are being neglected and taken for dunce. what isnt being done is the testing required to find out why these kids are failing. most of these kids have learning disabilities such as dyslexia and they pass through our education system and go into the world unnoticed. but what you all failed to realise is the main point this movie is trying to get across to you preliterate people….ITS TELLING YOU THAT WE TAKE CHILDREN AND THEIR TENDANCIES FOR GRANTED….WE CALL THEM STUPID AND DUMB BUT WE FAIL TO REALISE THAT THERE MIGHT BE A HIDDEN REASON FOR THEIR MISBEHAVIOR….

  59. neha says:


  60. wanderlust says:

    neha, lady…. please please don’t use words like preliterate and don’t use so many capital letters…. they make me split my sides laughing.

  61. Rafi says:

    Taare Zameen par story has been copied from the book ‘Thank You Mr. Falker’ by Patricia Polacco.

    Check out


  62. Jesus Ross says:

    Tom Cruise have dyslexia and yet he is still a very successful actor.,~:

  63. Kai Collins says:

    dyslexia is not that debiliating but it is somewhat limiting to the kind of job that you can get”-.

  64. my sister has dyslexia but she can live a very normal life eventhough she can’t read that much*.,

  65. It is so lucky for me to locate your blog! So shocking and great! Just a single suggestion: It’s going to be superior and simpler to follow if your blog site can provide rrs subscription service.

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