Amidst all the chaos that is attempting to get decent marks in my unit test, I finally caught up with the much hyped Taare Zameen Par. Of course, it came highly recommended from my sister who said she could not resist crying and my college friends who said they were brought to tears even though they don’t know Hindi. So in the end I finally gave up and saw the movie and for once, in a long time, I can definitely say the hype is truly deserved.

Taare Zameen Par is a movie that will force its way into the deepest and darkest corners of your heart and firmly find for itself a place there. It is riddled with wonderful performances literally from each cast member and even the ones who appear in the smallest of roles end up touching our hearts. It is arguably one of the best movies of 2007 (if not the best) and any person – whether parent or child – would do themselves good by experiencing it.

Taare Zameen Par follows the story of Ishaan Awasti (Darsheel Safary), a 9 year old dyslexic boy who cannot understand studies how much ever he tries. His father, however, thinks that he is just a stubborn boy who does not want to study and after getting angered by the increase in complaints against him decides to put him into a boarding school against the wishes of his wife, elder son (who is a topper in school) and of course, Ishaan himself. How Ishaan overcomes his condition with the help of recently appointed art teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) and realizes his true potential as an artist forms the rest of the story.

You’d be hard pressed to convince anyone after watching the film that this is Aamir Khan’s first directorial venture. Aamir has cleverly sidestepped showing us what cool directorial tricks he has up his sleeves (this being his first movie and all) and instead given us a true, non-cinematic look at the life of Ishaan Awasti and his family. The movie works out more like an experience (similar to reading a great book) than a movie and in the process helps us identify with the main characters a lot better.

Story and Screenplay from Amol Gupte (who was initially supposed to direct the film also) is top notch. Apart from the initial sequences (which give us a look into the life of Ishaan and his family) which are a bit slow moving, the movie keeps you gripped and never lets you go right from the sequence where Ishaan is dropped off in the boarding school to the climax. The dialogue writer also deserves a lot of praise in making the movie feel realistic and a lot of the dialogues really hit the nail on the head without venturing into the preachy territory which would have felt out of place in the movie. The scene where Aamir Khan visits Darsheel’s house and the one where Darsheel’s father visits Aamir at school are fine examples of the dialogue writer’s excellence.

With all the applause Darsheel Safary has been getting, it is really a moot point discussing his performance but I am going to do it anyway. Being cast as the central character, the movie had a lot riding on Darsheel’s performance and it is worth reiterating that he delivers on all accounts. Whether with his facial expressions or body language, he really brings the character of Ishaan Awasti to life and is truly the hero of the film. Aamir Khan shines in a role that expects him to underplay a lot but he gets to deliver all the best lines in the movie and, as expected, does full justice to them. Tisca Chopra comes out with an outstanding performance whether as the mother who loves her son too much to let him go or as the wife who cannot go against her husband’s wish when the latter decides that a boarding school is the best choice for his son. Vipin Sharma as Ishaan’s father is dignified in a role that requires him to be stern and sentimental in equal parts. Other notable performances come from Sachet Engineer as Ishaan’s elder brother and Tanay Chada as Ishaan’s best friend at school.

If movies like Jhoom Barabar Jhoom led you the believe that the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy can come up only with foot-tapping peppy dance numbers, then with wonderful music in an offbeat film like this one they have proved that they really have become the complete package when it comes to Bollywood music. Shankar Mahadevan’s wonderfully sung Taare Zameen Par… and the haunting Maa… are clearly the pick of the lot with beautiful lyrics from Prasoon Joshi. However, other songs like Jame Raho… which plays in the background to scenes presenting the family’s morning routine or Bum Bum Bole… which has the entire class room up and dancing really prove the trio’s superiority and all of this while never feeling out of sync with the movie. The movie’s animated sequences also deserve a special mention for bringing the quirky thoughts that play in Ishaan’s mind to life.