This Bollywood movie which released in the year 2007 was a directorial debut of Aamir Khan. Produced by Aamir Khan Productions and written by Amole Gupte, the movie revolves around the life of the protagonist, a dyslexic eight-year old Ishaan Awasthi, played by Darsheel Safary, who faces criticisms and rebuke for fairing badly in examinations and is sent away to a Boarding school. A temporarily appointed art teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh played by Aamir Khan, who is also an instructor at Tulips School for children with developmental disability, identifies the disability in Ishaan and assists him to regain his self-confidence.
The song “Jame Raho” introduces us to the characters of the protagonist Ishaan Awasthi’s family. His father Nandkishore Awasthi, enacted by Vipin Sharma, is responsible and diligent, whereas his mother Maya Awasthi, played by Tisca Chopra, is seen managing the daily household chores. Eldest son Yohaan, enacted by Sachet Engineer, is the ideal son whereas Ishaan needs constant nudging to enable him to keep pace with the others, as he is engrossed in a world of his own.
Ishaan develops an aversion to school. His dismal performance in every exam and being on the receiving end of jeering peers does not help his case. Even though he fights these external forces, he silently paints his imagination on paper. His elder brother’s consistent good results make him appear less capable; unable to meet his parents’ expectations, only increased his tribulations. His difficulty in understanding his subjects, making the mistake of writing S as 2, are all misunderstood as being roguish which subsequently leads to him being sent away to a boarding school.
His new environs further drown him into a state of depression and trepidation even though he befriends a physically disabled but an excellent student, Raajan Damodaran played by Tanay Cheda. Ishaan’s situation improves with the entry of his new art teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh, whose teaching style is distinctly different from his predecessor, who was stringent and stern. He notices the lack of Ishaan’s participation in class; reviews his class-work and concludes that his academic shortcomings are due to a neurological disorder called dyslexia. To understand more about Ishaan, he visits Ishaan’s parents and becomes speechless by the artistry of the young Ishaan. His initial explanations regarding Ishaan’s condition is seen as an excuse to cover up the poor results, but he gradually manages to elucidate Ishaan’s disability and his plight at school. On the other hand, he helps Ishaan understand the subjects and improve his grades leading to a boost in his self-esteem. Witnessing the remarkable transformation in Ishaan and progress in academics, Ishaan’s parents were left speechless and ecstatic.
Darsheel’s exemplary performance where he portrays the character Ishaan with utmost integrity and innocence makes us empathize with Ishaan. Aamir Khan plays a convincing role model for Ishaan and compels us to draw parallels with our life. Tisca Chopra was a revelation whereas Vipin Sharma’s dominating father image seemed exaggerated at times. The caring friend, Raajan and the understanding sibling, Yohaan have done justice to their respective parts.
The music from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy blends well with the storyline and the songs contribute to the narrative, too. The tempo of the song “Jame Raho” changes concurrently to the characters being portrayed, offers a well-thought lyrical piece. Prasoon Joshi’s heart-wrenching lyrics in ‘Maa’ with the line “mein kabhi batlaata nahi” is a hot favourite. The movie is a visual treat with its top class animation and art that enchants us throughout its entire length.
However, the film has its share of flaws. Even though the climax is predictable and surreal, it tugs the right place. Ishaan leaving the premises of the boarding school at night seemed exaggerated. The pace of the movie before intermission seemed too prolonged in comparison to its treatment in the second half, but one is willing to forgive these in the wake of heart-clenching moments shown otherwise.
The film celebrates the abilities of children. The message of the film is not unfamiliar and yet remains ignored in the society. It not only provides soul-stirring instances of the difficulties suffered by the young children but also deftly serves as an alarm to those parents who believe in producing race-winning rats without making efforts to nourish the inborn talents of their kids.