Some heart-wrenching emotions, some clichÃ©d comedy
ZIYA US SALAM
FORMULA AND BEYOND: Aamir Khanâ€™s â€œTaare Zameen Parâ€ is a heart-warming saga with different shades while Anees Bazmeeâ€™s â€œWelcomeâ€ is replete with predictable elements.
TAARE ZAMEEN PAR
(At Spice PVR, Noida, and other theatres in Delhi and elsewhere)
Here comes one of the most awaited directorial debuts among a generation of cinemagoers. A few early minutes of â€œTaare Zameen Parâ€ and one can say with certainty that every minute of eager anticipation has been well spent. Aamir Khanâ€™s first film at the helm of affairs tells us you do not need a convulsion to make history. You simply craft it with patience, piece it together painstakingly. â€œTaare Zameen Parâ€ may not make it to the â€œbest films everâ€ category but it is a film worth every second you spend watching it in the cinema hall.
Here Aamir takes half a step beyond the parameters of conventional Bollywood-style filmmaking; then delivers a sterling performance, as a hero, and as a director. Understated but authoritative, he makes full use of Amol Gupteâ€™s wonderful script. He does not mock at his peers but takes digs at a society that talks of individual supremacy but blocks all attempts at going beyond the trite.
For starters, Aamir is the hero but the real â€œheroâ€ is boy wonder Darsheel Safary: even the filmâ€™s credits rank the kiddo ahead of the seasoned star! Aamir himself does not enter the frames until more than an hour of the film! That nobody minds it is a tribute as much to the director who keeps a tight leash on the proceedings as to Darsheel, who acts with his eyes, speaks a thousand words without uttering one. And in an industry where kids get to talk in homilies, he is a lucky fellow! He gets to play, act and behave as a child.
In this case, he is a child with special abilities. He is handicapped by a society that measures brilliance by an ability to learn and reproduce what is written in classroom textbooks.
Thus the special ability of the dyslexic child is reduced to nil: he can do things his own way if only he is allowed to. He can speak the answers even if he cannot read, he can paint the best but the school expects him to clear algebra too! Yes, we have seen films on serious illnesses affecting the protagonists in the past, but probably none comes even close to handling dyslexia the way Aamir has.
There is a sensitivity that comes only to the well-meaning. There is a restraint that comes only to the professional. Thus even as Aamir, as an arts teacher, puts his hand up to rescue the life and career of the kid scorned by all, there is never a dull moment. Nothing didactic, nothing documentary-style. Here even when the film talks about a serious medical disorder, there is no boredom, just a wish that the child would rise above the obstacle. That he does â€“ predictably, too. Yet again, Aamir saves the day. Even as the climax gets a bit too long, his own charisma comes into play. Now add a dash of situational humour, some good show from character artistes, a couple of lilting songs with lyrics that tug at your heart and what have you got? A film for the memory bank. A film you should see today so that you donâ€™t make the mistakes the parents of the protagonist do here. It is a film you should watch with mum, dad, son, daughter, and all those who love cinema. And all those who love children.
â€œTaare Zameen Parâ€ may not bring the heavens to earth, but it takes you to a special world where every child is a star in his own right.
(At Chanakya and other Delhi theatres)
If Bollywood takes a step forward with â€œTaare Zameen Parâ€, it takes half a step back with this Anees Bazmee film. Welcome, one would say? Not quite. Unfortunately, the box office usually sings a different tune, and the masses, faceless and forever acquiescing, seem to have yielded to yet another over-the-top comedy.
Replete with melodrama with lots of corny stuff thrown in, â€œWelcomeâ€ has everything going for it. It has a huge star cast, led by the reigning King of Comedy Akshay Kumar. Keeping him company are the likes of Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor, and, surprisingly, Feroz Khan with Mallika Sherawat and Katrina Kaif bringing up the confectionery.
All going for it? Yet, all but one thing: there is not a line of grace in the film, not a comic sequence you have not seen before, or a shot that is handled with an iota of subtlety.
To begin with, it is a simple story of the bhailog going around looking for a groom for their sister. So Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor, the usual underworld stars, play brother to Katrinaâ€™s sister act: never mind there is no resemblance or even a sequence showing sibling love! The brothers vent spleen, using choicest words even as they look for a possible spouse for their sister! It is predictable but hilarious if you donâ€™t mind loudness in words and gestures. Enter Akshay as the girlâ€™s beau, and you would think the problem is solved. Not quite. Turns out the guy is the nephew of a man who has already said no to any alliance with the underworld family!
Of course, Anees does things in a larger-than-life manner. So he flies in Feroz Khan as RDX, over and above the local gangsters! Another matter that he is little more than a glorified extra! Anees also shoots the film primarily in Dubai, and makes sure that Katrina and Mallika have well fleshed out parts in the film. Incidentally, Mallika manages to out-score and out-strip her competitor, the consistently non-acting Katrina, who plays the good girl but wears clothes similar to Mallika. The three guys? Well, Nana gets to jig, Anil and Akshay get to repeat themselves. And we get a film that stays married to conventional ways of successful formula fare. Judging from the reaction of the early watchers, the masses do not seem to mind: all double entendres, and same-sex predilections jokes seem to come with immunity bond these days! You are welcome to join the gang!