Welcome (pun intended) to the world of Walt Disney in India! Yes, that's exactly how Aamir Khan, debuting as director, and his creative team package the film, making a classic entertainer that does not bore a second at 18 reels on a subject as socially-vital as dyslexia. So all you Revathis, Farhan Akhtars and Ashutosh Gowarikers et al out there who think that social issues need dry and drab treatments get ready for Mr Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan), a colourful arts teacher who - rightly and vitally - believes that every child is special, whether dyslexic or physically- and mentally-challenged.
And in this lies hidden the great myth about dyslexia, a disorder that spans a diversity of symptoms but is found only in children with above-average intelligence, imagination and emotional quotient. Taare... could have emerged as a cloying or crawling docu-drama without the colours in which Nikumbh and his favourite student Ishaan so boldly love to dabble. Instead, Khan uses his superstardom and his family tradition of full-on entertainers (his uncle and role model Nasir Husain) and his acting icon Shammi Kapoor's mantra of universal connect to make a film that is vibrant and funny but stunningly moving and impact-laden too.
The top billing over the superstar to Harsheel Daftary who plays the clumsy, carefree, conventionally "duffer" and internally-suffering Ishaan is completely justified. The boy delivers a performance that can only be called stupendous, and no doubt a few more words can be added from the Thesaurus. Taare delights, touches, elevates, instructs and motivates both such children and adults who have to deal with such offsprings, students and kids in general, and full marks and more to the creative teams - writer and creative director Amole Gupte and his wife Deepa Bhatia who is responsible for the concept, the painstaking and authentic research and the compassionate editing that does not cut off scenes for dramatic brevity when detailing is vital.
While the climax of Lagaan was set in a cricket match, here it is in an art competition, but the effect is as rivetting and cheering. Ishaan, the underdog, the boy who is a 'disgrace' to his parents, school and orthodox teachers with his blunders, low marks and aggressive behaviour blooms into the hero of the day, all because of the farsighted and motivated Nikumbh 'Sir' who waters this human plant with compassion, sympathy and affection instead of pouring reprimands, beatings, criticisms and ridicule on him!
The film takes care to paint the parents, hassled from their own perspective, as real,