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I Am Kalam Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Saturday, August 6, 2011 • Hindi ]
I Am Kalam Review
Smile Foundation,
Gulshan Grover, Harsh Mayar
Nila Madhab Panda

'I Am Kalam' doesn't try to gain audience sympathy by harnessing pathos of the central protagonist, Chotu (Harsh Mayar), hence resulting in over sentimentality. Instead, a successful attempt is made at merely narrating what went in his life and how he used situations to their full potential instead of waiting for things to happen that could uplift his social standing. As a kid who wants to learn things, do something bigger in life and earn his way to a better positioning in the society, Chotu is utmost believable that adds on the narrative of 'I Am Kalam'.

So while he works at a roadside 'dhabha' of Gulshan Grover, Chotu learns how to make tea, read English, learn French, build relationships, earn goodwill of customers, find time to play, play music, gain confidence and never lose his self respect, something that makes him seem just like a kid who is in need of that one opportunity that could change his life forever.

In this endeavour of his, he is supported by his only friend, a kid Prince (Hussan Saad), who in turn learns Hindi from him and also comes out of his loneliness. In fact their initial scenes together end up reminding one of the basic plotline of 'Tere Mere Sapne' where Arshad Warsi and Chandrachur Singh had enacted similar roles, though to a comical effect. However in comparison 'I Am Kalam' is more heart-warming than feel good.

So while a fellow worker at the 'dhabha', Pitobash Tripathy (seen earlier in 'Shor In The City') does try to be a villain of the piece by being a stumbling block in his journey, there is a French tourist (Beatrice Ordeix) who lends him a helping hand by willing to support him in his dreams. And then of course there is Gulshan Grover who is kind hearted enough to further support him in his dreams but only if they are practical enough.

This means that there are quite a few scenes in the film that remain with you. Chotu's quick grasp over the state of affairs, his first attempt at making 'chai', interaction with the Prince, the inspiration that he gets from ex-President Kalam, the first time when he wears a school dress and then of course the climax where he reaches Delhi and writes a letter to Kalam - all of these are moments that tug your heart and make you want to root for him.

What works most for this film is that nowhere do you feel something is being thrust down the throat. Director Nila Madhab Panda concentrates primarily on a story speaking for itself rather than a forced effort being made. This is the reason why when the story of Chotu/Kalam (Harsh Mayar) unfolds, you are with him during his moments rather than staring at him as a bystander. So while Harsh does very well in the title role, Hussan is no lesser. In fact each of his scenes with Harsh, he leaves a strong mark as well. Gulshan Grover is of course reliable as well, Pitobash brings in good laughs while Beatrice looks like her part.

For a film like 'I Am Kalam', it is easy to shower appreciation on the lines of 'notable cinema', 'an honest effort', 'a poignant story', 'an inspirational exercise' etc. etc. However at the core of it all, you do expect a fair doe of entertainment as well. After all something which is notable, honest, poignant or inspirational could be a documentary or a piece of literature as well. However when it comes to the medium of cinema, what is also of paramount importance is the fact that whether a film manages to engage you for those 100 odd minutes or not. Thankfully, when it comes to 'I Am Kalam', the answer is a firm


Give this film a chance. It tells a lot without speaking much.

Rating: ***1/2



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