I find film critics arrogant and snobbish. They tend to write bad things about all movies and even if it’s a great movie they’ll write something bad just for the heck of it, just to show that they are NOT biased.

Raja Sen’s review on Rediff. I have a lot of problems with the review. He writes…

It is hard to know, as a director, when there can be too much of a good thing. Khan indulges himself with his nice little visual flourishes significantly in the first half, to the point of repetition. There is the clever device of the child — being shunted off to boarding school against his desperate pleas — making a flipbook which shows a family with one kid moving away, as the pages turn. It’s a strong, simple touch, yet Khan chooses to show it to us again and again, showing the audience the flip book every time any character sees it.

I’ll tell you why. Not many among Aamir’s target audience would notice what’s happening with the flip book at the first or second go. What is a flip book to begin with, not many parents know.

I remember my own flip book, we all had one, it was a fun thing for us, we’d draw those cartoons for days together, then flip the book and laugh about it. However it wasn’t a note copy, or a book, or a very important apparatus for the science lab, or geometry box, so our parents didn’t know about it. I never showed my flip book to them for one.

Ishaan’s flip book conveyed two important facts, one that he was very disturbed about going to boarding school and second, that the so called duffer and idiot could think of making a flip book with amazing art work in it.

It’s not easy to convey emotions or generally communicate, when the characters in the scene are not howling / crying, not even talking. For both, the characters in the story and the audience in the theater, flipping the book was important to convey the above two facts.

If Aamir would have showed the flipping once and rest of the time would have showed the back of the book, some of them in the movie theater would have been like… “why are they looking at the book again and again? The kid only made a picture in it.” Don’t mind but yes some times audience are dumb. (Sometimes? Well…)

Next, Raja writes about Aamir’s character ‘Nikumbh’…

Aamir now balances his own character speaking like a Public Service Announcement with Ishaan’s father spouting lines seemingly written for… laughs?

“Speaking like a Public Service Announcement?” I don’t even know what does it means to be speaking like one.

Nikumbh by profession talks about stuff regular people don’t know, so we hear him talking about the Government of India’s initiative ‘sarva shiksha abhiyan’. He knows all about dyslexia, its symptoms, causes and effects, because he himself has suffered from it and also because he is a teacher at a school for differently able people.

The character spoke in a manner of a concerned teacher, who knows exactly what he is talking about, who is there to tell the parents, their child has a problem and they, instead of taking note of it, have pushed him to an even worse corner, the boarding school.

Of course the character wouldn’t sound like the happy go lucky guy next door.

About the parent’s angle in the film Raja Sen writes…

The child’s mother rapidly goes from confused-but-undoubtedly-caring to one who thinks Googling dyslexia is Enough. In fact, the whole parental angle is left considerably half-baked, seeming to serve only for a few good comebacks the teacher gets to make.

Hello? says who? Googling is NOT enough. That’s what Nikhumbh said. When Ishaan’s dad came bragging, “My wife Googled for it, so I came to tell you, it’s not like we don’t care for our child,” Nikumbh shook the shit out of the father explaining what it means ‘to care’, how it is everything but Googling and finished saying, “am glad you thought you cared.”

The parental angle IS half baked, because they decided not to do anything about the child, and send him off to a boarding school and sit back. That’s the plot. That’s what most parents would do, and the movie is a message to them to think twice. Now, I understand you would rather want to see the child staying with parents, the mother suddenly realizing he has dyslexia, and fix it and all, but then you will have to change the plot, make a different film.

On the transformation from being dyslexic to not dyslexic he says…

This is wrong in particular, to show and identify the problem and then dismiss it in a manner of minutes. It is all very well to depict that love and care will conquer all, but the process cannot be as simple as making Plasticine elephants.

Another critique (also a friend) said similar thing that the transformation was way too easy.

You know guys, there is another place where you can learn all about “how to cure dyslexia”, its called ‘medical college’. Parents with dyslexic kids, don’t come to see TZP with the expectation that you’ll figure out how to help your child.

The movie just talks about two things, (1) that some child are dyslexic but they still are special, all kids need not be a part of the rat race, they can live with just obtaining pass marks in history, physics etc while excel in other streams, painting for example, or acting as Abhishek Bacchan did. (2) They can overcome dyslexia with a bit of help and compassion. The movie is not about a struggle, it’s about parenthood. Parent’s and teacher’s attitude towards special children.

Also to quote Rajeev Masand (whose review I liked the most so far) in my support…

Lest you be mistaken, let me make it clear that although it’s centred around a dyslexic protagonist, Taare Zameen Par is not a film about dyslexia. Nor is it a film about any disease or disorder. It’s a film about parents and children.

Mr. Raja Sen ends his review fatally, much like what he himself says about the movie…

Taare flounders fatally at the end. Sure, it’s okay to appease the masses with a tacked-on and cheesy ending, but for a film which stresses that we need to give our kids their space and not force themselves into constant comparisons, a film which asks them to take their time to find their talents, the climax becomes about a competition, about how winning magically makes everything better. And that’s a scary thought, in context of what the film tries to say, overall.

He calls the ending cheesy. Now that’s blasphemy. The ending of any movie is always extremely important. There are flicks which have been mediocre throughout but a strong ending has made up for it. Am not saying TZP has the best possible ending ever, but using words like, “flounders fatally” “appease masses” “cheesy ending”, for an outstandingly appealing movie like TZP, for a movie that is a must watch in this drought ridden industry of quality cinema, bad choice of words Mr. Raja, real bad.

And what did you say, competition? That’s all you can find in the last scene? And climax? Is it a murder mystery?

First, winning didn’t make everything magically better, winning in a stream where the child’s hidden talents were, painting competition, did. Duh, seriously it seems like you didn’t follow the movie at all.

Second, nothing was better magically. The kid and his mentor both worked hard to get over the dyslexia (now you’ll say that was not evident, to which I’ll say it’s not a documentary). Nikumbh mentions to the parents how Ishaan’s self confidence was weakened to the core due to constant scolding and ridicule, although he was able to get over dyslexia, it was important to help him gain back his lost self confidence and that’s what the competition was for.

The competition was for both teachers and students, idea was to push them, to come out of their discipline ridden capsules, and so they did, including the principal, and what followed is a lot of love and laughter. At the art competition, the students dared for the first time to laugh at their teachers, they made fun of maths teacher’s hopeless attempts to paint, made caricature of Hindi teacher. To witness all these was important for Ishaan because he was by now some one who was scared of everyone around. This was important to assure him, no body would scold him no more.

To my convenience, Taran Adarsh gives a counter view (to Raja Sen) about the film’s ending…

But the best part is reserved for the finale — the art competition in the penultimate twenty minutes. The emotions reach an all-time high as the kid regains his confidence. The finale would melt even the stone-hearted!

Phew!! Dear Mr. Raja Sen, I have never read any of your reviews or any other writing before, I don’t know a thing about who you are except your name, I found your review via search engines, but if I had to make a judgment from just this review of yours, your review is biased, in favour of the idea that critiques have to write both good and bad, for the heck of it to appear unbiased. See the irony?

Also cross posted on Great Indian Mutiny

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