I have never cried as much, as I did, when watching the outstanding film Taare Zameen Par, directed by one of my favourite actors, Aamir Khan (2007) . And so when I heard recently that it will be India’s entry for the 2009 Oscar awards for Best Foreign Film, i was thrilled. And whether it wins at the Oscars or not, is irrelevant, as it has already won the hearts of everybody that has seen it.
TZP is a film that can be understood in any language, because of its universal theme, the plight of a young eight year old boy who suffers from a disability, dyslexia, and is bewildered because everyone around him rejects him in different ways. His mother still loves him unconditionally as does his older brother, but his father has huge expectations of him, and so do his teachers. It is these huge expectations, and feelings of being a failure that forces him to become withdrawn and even give up the one thing he loves the most, painting. It is the love and understanding of an art teacher, who recognises what his real problem is, that is able to “save” him from sinking into an abyss of depression and despair.
The message of the film is really for those of us who buy into the stereotypes of what the perfect child is supposed to be, and forces us to revisit these ideas, because these stereotypes inevitably make us reject those children who are “different” from the norm. However every child is special, and are like stars on earth, and are deserving of love and acceptance. There can be no greater sin than abandoning and rejecting a child because s/he is not what the world expects her / him to be. Sadly this is what is happening daily. Quite apart from children without disabilities, being sold, traded, abused and exploited by depraved adults, children who are different, are being abandoned, and forgotten.
The team of TZP have made an oustanding film, which actually doesn’t need any awards or box office accolades, to confirm that it is truly a magnificent example of movie making. It has already won several awards though and I do hope it wins at the Oscars, if only to ensure that it is watched throughout the globe. If there is only one Indian film watch you watch in your life, this should be it.