Versatile Indian actor Aamir Khan turns director with Taare Zameen Par - a children's film that has just as much to offer adults as kids. A far cry from the formulaic masala flicks churned out by the Bollywood machine, this sensitive drama centres on an eight-year-old dyslexic boy (Darsheel Safary) who struggles to be understood by the people and world around him, until a teacher reveals his hidden talent. An inspirational story that is as emotive as it is entertaining; this is a little twinkling star of a movie.
In an adult world where colours, fish and dogs are nowhere near as important as homework, top marks and neatness - Ishaan Awasthi (Safary) fights to understand and be appreciated. Constantly embroiled in mischief, his stern father (Vipin Sharma) and doting mother (Tisca Chopra) despair at his inability to match up to his swotty brother. Facing expulsion, Ishaan is shifted to a boarding school in an attempt to instill some discipline in him. But it is here that his vivid imagination is recognised by art teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Khan), who sets about helping Ishaan discover himself.
"CAPTIVATES FROM BEGINNING TO END"
Dyslexia may be recognised in the west, but in a country where millions of Indian children go without the luxury of education, and learning difficulties are often confused with mental and physical disability, Khan sets out to make the distinction with the tagline "every child is special". By downgrading his own screen presence in Taare Zameen Par and placing mesmerising young discovery Safary firmly in the limelight, the debutante director ensures Ishaan Awasthi's revelatory journey captivates from beginning to end. At nearly three hours long Amol Gupte's touching screenplay could do with a trim; but luckily Setu's magical cinematography saves the day, lending the fairytale feeling this film deserves.
Taare Zameen Par (Little Stars on Earth) is out in the UK on 21st December 2007.