Taare Zameen Par - review by Raja Sen and Rangan Baradwaj ripped apart by Sanjukta Basu

Taare Zameen Par | My response to Rangan Baradwaj

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. Today also discovered the second rip off got a mention in this site called TV News Mag. 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.

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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 rip off. 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 Rip off posts, something I accuse the critics of doing. I must also add I have never read anything written by Brangan ever befoand 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.

25 thoughts on “Taare Zameen Par | My response to Rangan Baradwaj

  1. hello, where do you see hate? I clearly said this is just nitpicking, like he can find something or the other wrong with the film, I found something or the other wrong about his review..

    Nothing personal against anybody…

    And, thanks for forwarding the link..good exersise for my mind.

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  2. cheers.. i loved the movie too.. i dont understand y people criticize movies for teh sake of criticizing it.. Also, I hate that particular breed of people who speak like this just to show they are different!

    am waiting for more rip offs :-)

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  3. Super post Sanjukta..
    I pity those so called “reviewers”, they missing out on enjoying this good movie..
    Even more, I pity their kids..

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  4. Nice rip off. But Bhardwaj Rangan happens to be the National Award winner for the best critic. Wish he reads this too.

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  5. I am surprised that thsi movie has been so well reviwed/ criticised/ commented upon. This is thought provoking cinema!! and if that alone does not prove the point that this is well made cinema, i don’t then what is. Basically to comment/ to review and to critique Mr. Brangan, you have to have similar talent yourself, if you don’t don’t then learn from the work of others. In my view ( iam a doctor and have tought too), this movie is well made, gives out a strong message to all including teachers/ parents/ professionals and director has done his job well as well as Actor Aamir Khan. He as a person has come out to be as an intelectual with clear society changing thoughts. I have huge respect for the guy. Does any body know that he worked with children and with Amol Gupte for 7 yrs before deciding on the film. I have seen Dead Poets society many times and was impressed by it. I am even more impressed by TZP as rightly said, in this opne other teachers are not shown to criticise the reformer, Nikhubh. and yes, we have all seen teacher in indian schools like the ones shown and portrayed so well by actors and directed so well by the Sir Aamir Khan. i have had my share of knuckle knckings, murga postures, and chaulk hits. So true……so Learn something Mr. Brangan

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  6. Hi Sanjukta,

    What passionate writing! I sincerely wish that there is at least one reviewer/critic who doesn’t like Aamir’s forthcoming movies, so that one can see more such forceful writing from you. And much as you deny, such force is coming through only because youre an Aamir fan who loved this film, and cannot digest the fact that there can be someone who wasn’t as impressed by the film as you were.

    You have already read my my point of view on Rangan’s blog. I only want to add that you have used some of his quotes selectively and out of context. I’m reproducing a few lines that you have chose to omit:

    “And sure enough, from this point onwards, Taare Zameen Par turns less individual, more crowd-pleasing. And that’s not a bad thing at all, for if a big star can use his big clout to get big numbers of audiences to watch something they otherwise wouldn’t touch with the proverbial bargepole (case in point: Apna Asmaan), that alone is a completely valid reason for a movie’s existence.”

    “Perhaps the fact that Aamir Khan is in the movie necessitated these decisions. After all, if he were just teacher and nothing else, what would he do on screen as the film focussed on the others? But that’s 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, whereas Taare Zameen Par eventually turns into a hero-centric movie. 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. And that’s a big shift in tone.”

    What Rangan has tried to say is that Aamir Khan’s presence was absolutely required to get a wider audience for this film (same as your point), but he felt that it could be less Nikumbh focussed in the second half, and he has reasoned out why it turned out to be so.

    So while I respect your views and even agree with some of them, I think the lawyer in you is trying to argue turn a case in your favor, even if that means coveniently and consciously ignoring a few facts.

    Lest you think otherwise, let me tell you that I absolutely loved TZP and have already watched it twice. can watch it again and again. You can read my review here:
    http://urgetofly.blogspirit.com/archive/2007/12/23/taare-zameen-par-review.html

    Yet, it has its share of flaws and reviewers have the right to talk about them. And a reviewer’s job is to analyze a film, not to recommend a film to anyone. That’s why Baradwaj Rangan is one of the very few reviewers who don’t give a star rating or a recommendation in their reviews. His readers understand that very well and read his reviews for his analysis rather than a recommendation.

    If you really want some nasty reviews on TZP, read this:
    http://passionforcinema.com/tzp-curious-incident-of-a-lecture-on-dyslexia-during-movietime/

    Compare this with Baradwaj Rangan’s and you will realize the difference between objective analysis and intentional nastiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Sanjukta. I’ve read your Raja sen review rip off and applauded[check out the comments therin]. Am doing so again. I wish I had your capacity to use words effectively, like swords. Alas, I do write a fair bit but my words are more like an old kitchen knife.

    Actually, I have been reading Bharadwaj Rangan’s film reviews, since a couple of years or so.I’ve read them variously on his blogsite and at times in the Sunday India Express[Chennai].I have always felt that he was one of the better reviewers, fairer than the TOI-Mumbai media types. Sanjukta, if you are an Aamir fan[NOT fanatical supporter] like me, you will know that MP was badly criticized and RDB had its own share of same. I happen to like these films despite their flaws —and I found BRangan’s thoughts on these fims to be pretty fair.Even otherwise I have liked his reviews, and when he recently won the National Award for Best Critic, I was pleased.

    What a pity to read his scathing review of TZP–I felt badly let down by an ‘old friend’.

    Which is why I am so glad to read your riposte to BRangan’s TZP rape—strong words I know, but that’s what I thought of his review.And yes, every point you have raised is valid and all I can say is Ditto and Thanks!.

    One more thought. A film means x to you and y to me, hence all these differences of opinion. I appreciate what Aditya Pant has written too, above, a little before me. And thanks to Devinder for sending me this link.

    Please read the this article from today’s edition of The Hindu–how educators are happy with TZP for bringing spotlight on a problem they have been dealing with for over a decade.

    http://www.hindu.com/mp/2008/01/09/stories/2008010950290500.htm

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  8. Saw the movie….a typical worn out theme…the intro of our hero was very exciting (phewww)…nd it seems that our man had to squeeze in songs to to make it even worse…..oh may be thats cos Amir is not running a charity home …and hey dont even complain cos its Amir!!!!!!

    If Pankaj Kappor would’ve looked good in T-shirt and he had a chocolate face like Amir the movie “Blue Umbrella” would’ve been a massive hit…by the so called audience including you….

    that was my opinion abt the movie….juz MHO…

    hey sanjuktha what were u smoking….. which made u watch the movie for two times and then went to read a review abt it and then to write another onee…

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  9. Its nice to read reviwes. Gives you points which you otherwise might have missed out. I liked the movie and feel 2nd hald could have been crispier. I also got a feeling that the narrator, in the 2nd half, quickly wanted the audience to see the results of Aamir’s (the teachers) hard work. The 1st half and 30 min of 2nd half was nicely paced and gave an insight to Ishaan’s mind. There after, with Aamir’s entry the focus of the film shidfted to his hard work but i gues that’s ok becuase the film according to me is also dealing with teacher student relationship and also our education systems which just wants to churn out rats to run the race.

    Where in teh 1st half was shown relationship of the child with his parents the 2nd half showed it with the tacher but in the 2nd half, like I said b4, the focus shifted. May be that was important. But all in all, a good film.

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  10. @Action Kumar

    I love you :D

    @ Aditya
    Appreciate your comments, I honestly don’t want to disrespect anybody, tried to make that clear in the first para but alas…guess it’s my writing…most of what I write is fierce.. and yes there is a little bit of lawyer in me.

    I totally understand that an opinion is an opinion period. It doesn’t have to cater to any other needs…just some how can’t shrug of the fear that reading an honorable critc’s review one might be (may be 1 in 100 but still) dissuaded from going for a great film.

    My intention is not to belittle the reviewer believe me :-)

    @Lalitha
    Thanks so much for sharing so many thoughts with me…

    @ALL

    I can’t explain how thankful i am for all the comments I got so far on 2 of these rip off posts… been blogging for years but have never provoked so many thoughts…. glad these posts became platforms where my readers could identify with what I am saying and also express themselves

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  11. Hey my second or maybe third visit to your blog and I think you have a great style of writing.

    I would want you to look at Mr.Rangan’s review this way….What if someone were to do a review of this post you have written.

    There would be people who love it and there would be people who hate it. And then there would be other people who kinda agreed with a few points and not everything. I think that is exactly what Mr. Rangan did on his review of TZP.

    I am no big Aamir Khan fan and I loved the movie and watched it twice in a theater in NYC spending $12 each time :) There is not a single scene in the movie I do not like and I disagree with a lot of points Mr. Rangan says but I guess I am kinda like him too. I strongly believe in sticking to personal opinion over the group-opinion in matters like this…

    looking forward to more interesting posts and maybe some debates :) take care…

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  12. Shit!!!!! it makes me guilty to write again for this debate…I finished watching TZP fully yesterday…last time i just stopped the movie half way through nd thought it was a waste of time (thnk goodness I dint press ctrl+Alt+delete to the DIVx file) …gosh the movie turned out to be something which i dint expect at all….hmmm may be i should learn the art of patience!!!!!

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  13. I liked TZP. i have an 8 yr old son and i sympathised with the mum, who knew not all was right with her son, but for fear of her husband she keeps quite. sometimes one of the spouses pesonality is so forceful, that the other fears for the relationship, and doesnt voice his/her opinion. i think, the message is for couples to trust each other and respect each other’s opionion and make joint decisions esp. as regards family matters.

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  14. There are so many there who cannot like some art like I can, but I do not hate them for that. Probably because I can empathies with them. I cannot appreciate rock music. Not much of painting, sculpture, or other fine arts. But I can appreciate literature. Art of writing. General music, cinema, et al.

    For example, I do not think anyone who has not read Kafka or has some basic idea about the philosophy of existentialism can appreciate the extraordinary achievement that ‘No Smoking’ was. I can consider it one of the most outstanding movies made in India.

    Having said that, I second your post whole heartedly. Because it is not a criticism of just someone who did not like the movie but someone who has made it his profession to critically evaluate the art of cinema. He is , like most critics out there, a disgrace.

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