Addendum: 20th Jan 2008

Thought will share a little bit of info with you all. This post and the previous response to Raja Sen’s review went on to become my most popular posts ever. The first one got a total of 1039 unique page views from 23rd Dec till date and second one (present post) got a total of 272 from 6th Jan. The first one was also posted on Great Indian and Mutiny and it got some plethora of comments (a total of 34) and opinions there as also on this blog. The post also got linked by other bloggers, one I can remember is on India Reviews here. Now all those figures may not be that great for other popular blogs, but for my blog they are very flattering and I want to thank everybody who read these posts and commented. Thanks to Mr. Raja Sen and Rangan Baradwaj also cause I wouldn’t have written these posts had it not been for their reviews.

Saw TZP for the second time. The hall was packed, audience age group varied from 6 years to 60 years, their reactions were amazing, they clapped, laughed, cried. In the end they all stood still, watching the documentary clippings, as the credits rolled. On my second watch I found it even more perfect. So while I had earlier dropped the idea of nitpicking the critics I am back at it.

My second ripping apart. Review by Mr. Rangan Baradwaj (I figure that must be his name from the review URL, he signs the comments as brangan, for brevity sake that’s what I’ll call him henceforth herein)

Before I proceed I must confess, I myself am indulging in nitpicking big time by these Review Ripping posts, something I accuse the critics of doing. I must also add I have never read anything written by Brangan ever before and I don’t have anything personal against him. This post is only about his review of TZP. Not a penny more not a penny less.

So, first thing first, most annoying part, his reviews punch line,

A child’s learning disability forms the focus of an earnest, well-crafted drama that’s not entirely successful

Now tell me as an ordinary cine goer, would you be interested in going for a flick that doesn’t have any other known face except Aamir, which on the face of it seems to be a serious movie with no song dance tree or romance and to top it all, which is NOT entirely successful, would you want to spend Rs. 150 – 200 bucks on such a movie? If I had to decide by reading this review and if I am not an Aamir fanatic, I won’t right away go for it.

Mr. Brangan I need a definition of the word review, really. And even before that I need to know what would you like to call your piece on TZP. Is it a review / criticism / constructive criticism / a feedback / positive feedback / expert opinion OR just an article on the film more like personal thoughts. What is it?

I can see the piece is titled as “Review: Taare Zameen Par” and from the face of it, seems to be an expert opinion, coz you said…

Aamir generally goes overboard in his use of computer graphics elsewhere in the film, but he gets it absolutely right in the brilliant scene where…

Does he? Really? You know that for sure? And you must be an expert animator yourself to make that judgment. And should you must point that out while reviewing this film? Charge: Nitpicking.

To my understanding the reviewer or criticism has two purposes. (1) a feedback for the film maker and (2) help the audience to decide whether or not to go for it. If the criticism is not constructive none of the above purpose is served.

Next, Mr. Brangan says, sending the kid to boarding school sets the stage for Aamir the performer. If I am not too wrong in interpreting his words he is suggesting at this point aamir uses his star power for, “hinting to the audience that their patience so far is going to pay off”. On the contrary Mr. Brangan, not for once did the audience miss Aamir’s presence during the first half. That’s the director’s brilliance I shall say to put the movie on Darsheel’s shoulder for the entire first half and yet not make it boring. Brangan says,

Aamir Khan, The Performer, becomes a bit of a problem for Aamir Khan, The Director…around interval point, Taare Zameen Par stops being about Ishaan and starts to chronicle Nikumbh….I couldn’t shake away the nagging feeling that the story wasn’t any more about Ishaan overcoming his problems so much as Nikumbh helping Ishaan overcome his problems…perhaps why an actor with less wattage may have been the solution – for we would have then had ourselves a film that worked through its story with the help of an ensemble low-profile cast…

And what, be a failure at the box office? It’s a commercial mainstream movie Mr. Brangan and that’s where Aamir as a director succeeds. The movie has a message but isn’t boring. That’s why an average movie goer who is otherwise more keen on a ‘Welcome’ or ‘Om Shanti Om’ would also want to go for TZP. Tell me, how many watched Mani Ratnam’s Anjali?

Another reader on Mr. Brangan’s blog also suggests, Aamir could have NOT done the role himself and probably it would have been better to give the role to some one like Shreyas Talpade or Madhavan. Are you guys fucking out of your mind. Being the producer, if he would have done something like that, he would have been booked under IPC for “attempt to suicide” cause not even the bugs on the theater seats would have watched the film without Aamir in it. No matter how good the movie is you need one star to sell it. Aamir Khan is not here to do charity if somebody missed that.

Mr. Brangan thinks the whole introducing of Nikhumbh’s character is only a cinematic manipulation. I don’t want to keep quoting him here but to summarize, he says why don’t we see more of how Ishaan’s parents cope with the problem, why post interval the mother disappear from the scene, he thinks Ishaan was sent to the boarding school to clear the stage for Aamir Khan, he wishes there were scenes depicting the background from which Ishaan’s father is coming from.

Ishaan’s father is insensitive – but how about showing us where he is coming from, how his own overachieving childhood, say, or even a high-stress career has left him with no patience for an under-performing son?

Basically he wants to see a whole lot of things that was not there in the story. This is like asking, why don’t we see the background of Gabbar Singh, after all why is he such a cruel Dacoit, why don’t we see enough scenes dealing with Thakur’s 2 Sons and Daughter in laws who were only given one scene to live, why don’t we get more background of Soorma Bhopali.

Pray why should one be talking about what’s not a part of the script. The director does justice to the script, manages to hold the viewer’s attention, makes them cry and laugh, that’s what is important.

On the good bad and ugly teachers angle Mr brangan thinks there is a dramatic contrast of black and white between Nikumbh at one hand and everyone else on the other. To quote him,

…the rest of the world in black versus Aamir in white. Every one of the teachers at boarding school is an offensive cartoon painted in the broadest of strokes, and cruel too – like the instructor who raps Ishaan on the knuckles with a wooden ruler. Aamir, by contrast, laughs and sings…

Now this para is even factually wrong. Unlike many such movies (Music of the heart and Dead Poet’s Society are the only ones I can think of right now), where a rebellious teacher has to fight with a conservative system which includes everybody from teachers to parents, TZP, in spite of having the perfect backdrop didn’t go into such extra frills to create drama. Nikumbh was a temporary teacher but the rest of the permanent staff are not shown to be conspiring against him or bad mouthing him out of jealousy, they are also not shown to be frowning upon Nikhumbh’s teaching style. The teachers at the two schools that Ishaan studied, are very true to life, very identifiable.We all have had them in our schools. The incidents of cruelty (I feel sorry to even use that word cause there were none) were not exaggerated either. There was just one scene, which was very believable, after all which student has not got a stick on this palm / knuckle or have not been hit by a chalk or have not been slapped. I have been.

I can go on and on with this review rip off but its way way too long now. Just one last quote of Mr. Brangan and my response.

Aamir cried in too many scenes and that’s why he ran out of fluid and so had to ask for water.

Ha ha, that was very funny Mr. Brangan. That’s all it is. That’s all your review is, funny and sarcastic. And a proof of your super talent of finding a problem with everything.