Every time I saw a movie by Speilberg or Ridley Scott or the older classics of David Lean or William Wyler I asked myself why we did not have a comparable movie maker to show us the great big story. We have had pretenders like SL Bhansali stealing ideas and having delusions of grandeur and also Farah Khan cashing upon the greatness of the ordinary. At least FK did not boast of being original. Am I happy or am I ecstatic at learning that a new star director has evolved in Bollywood. Spielberg knows the child in every man and always brings out the deepest emotions in the most moving ways. Aamir Khan has finally done it for me and beautifully so.
The movie bursts forth with a magical collage of colors and the best of animation seen in Hindi cinema. You would love to see the titles. Of course it’s not for the first time you would be seeing the struggle of a dyslexic child, a caring and a supportive outsider and the eventual triumph. But the dream of every movie maker of carrying the audience with every rise and fall of emotions is effectively realized here. You want to reach out to comfort the distraught child and you soar with the happiness of his achievements. For me the movie once again brought to life the pains of growing up. The sudden shattering of a protected environment and to be thrown amongst strangers at a tender age is a trauma for any child. Standing alone and staring forlornly at the back of the vehicle carrying your mother away, bitter shedding of tears behind closed toilet doors and the all consuming sense of loneliness brought back memories from the deep recesses of my consciousness. I am not ashamed to admit that my tears flowed freely.
Darsheel Safary’s disarming innocence reflects in his eyes. The boy is a natural and has carried the movie on his small shoulders. Whether it’s his childish pranks or his discomfiture in the classroom or his lonely grief, he makes you believe in him. It’s what I would call an honest portrayal. Having said that a huge amount of credit should go to Aamir Khan the director for not cornering the lion’s share of footage for Aamir the actor. That’s what was required of a good director and he delivered. In fact he makes his first appearance just before the intermission.
The narrative is gripping and unrelenting. For an emotional movie there isn’t a single dull moment. Its storytelling at it’s best. The camera moves swiftly from one compelling image to another. Ordinary people and everyday images of the ordinary are beautifully juxtaposed with the curious journey of the child. The parents are who you find in almost every second household. The busy father who goes into a denial mode when confronted with his son’s handicap. The helpless mother who can only watch with dismay at her loved one. Aamir the actor excels again, this time as an art teacher who was dyslexic himself in his childhood. He recognizes Darsheel’s problem and from then on the story is how he finally succeeds in helping him overcome it. There are other lovable characters too. It seemed as if the teachers had jumped right out of my boarding school days. Anyone who has been to a public school would readily identify the English teacher who is always more English that the English themselves. Even the fake British accent has been copied to perfection.
Shankar, Ehsaan & Loy are only getting better. “Tujhe sab to pata hai meri Ma” is heart rending and soulfully depicts a child’s tortured mind. However what takes your breath away is the haunting background score. Aamir Khan is reported to be a perfectionist and he has more than proven it. This one ought to be a winner at the Oscars.