The award winning Taare Zameen Par, directed and starring Aamir Khan follows the story of Ishaan (Darsheel Safary). Ishaan is a young boy who loves art and has a brilliant imagination, but he struggles in school with reading, writing and arithmetic and at home because he is not understood. Thought of as a problem student and child, things gets so bad at home and at school he is shipped off to boarding school. While there, he meets an exceptional art teacher (Aamir Khan), who sees Ishaan not as a problem or troubled student but someone with Dyslexia. He works with Ishaan and brings learning, art and joy back into the boy’s life. The film released in December of 2007 (BollySpice rated it 4.5 stars!) and the DVD came out in India in July of 2008. However, Hindi film and Aamir Khan fans in the US, Canada and Australia, had to wait until this past week, January 12th to be exact, to finally get their hands on a copy of the DVD. The new DVD, released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, is titled Like Stars on Earth and not only has English subtitles, it also includes an English language track. There are also some fabulous DVD extras, but we will get to that later. In honor of Taare Zameen Par aka Like Stars on Earth finally, finally releasing on DVD, two of our writers, Stacey and Roshni decided to experience this fabulous movie all over again. After watching the film, the two got together to talk about what they call “one of the best movies ever to come out of Bollywood”. Have a peak into their chat!
Stacey: Ok soooo I watched Taare Zameen Par on the new Disney DVD version called Like Stars on Earth.
Roshni: Me too – Taarreeeee Zameeen Parrrrrrrrr!
Roshni: What do think worked best about the film?
Stacey: The script and the music and the actors and well everything! What about you?
Roshni: I think the script too. I think the writing was honest and to the point.
Stacey: Yes! I loved how in the beginning you got hints that he was dyslexic. Like when he tells the teacher the letters are dancing.
Roshni: It was real and you know what else I liked – How they show that the education system in India, despite being one of the best in the world, is still backward and flawed.
Stacey: Oh yeah, that is a very good point and that it is all about results too.
Roshni: Yes. How come none of the teachers who are obviously qualified, never picked up he was dyslexic?
Stacey: They just thought he was lazy. I mean they saw his work, even the principal did not pick it up.
Roshni: Yes. So was it the child who was lazy or the system?
Stacey: Even at the fancy boarding school they did not pick it up.
Stacey: Very true!
Roshni: So as a script it really made you question so many facets of the Indian education, but as a film, it managed to entertain and it wasn’t preachy.
Stacey: No not at all and I think that is one of the best things about it. It was just told so well and got you so involved.
Roshni: But you know what until i knew he was dyslexic, I wanted to smack him too. I was like this kid is horrible!
Stacey: Yeah, I mean he was what you would think was a typical boy.
Stacey: What did you think of Darsheel’s performance?
Roshni: He did a fab job!
Stacey: He was incredible.
Roshni: So natural and honest.
Stacey: You never felt like this was a boy acting – he was Ishaan.
Stacey: I mean Darsheel pretty much had to do every emotion and sometime without saying a word. Like the scene when he is on the roof and so mad. So good.
Roshni: Oh yeah, absolutely!
Roshni: You have to hand it to Aamir for allowing him to really just sideline himself and let Darsheel shine!
Roshni: What was your favorite scene?
Stacey: Wow-hard. Probably the end at the art mela when he sees the painting and then wins. Cried buckets and buckets.
Roshni: Oh yeah, the climax was the highlight of the film but I like the scene when Darsheel decides to take a day off school and tells his brother, I was out and about.. and he goes BINDAAAS!
Stacey: Oooh yeahhh! That is great too.
Stacey: I love how they showed the art too. Like when he got back from being bindaas and he made the painting of the ice – how they showed the mixing of the colors.
Roshni: Yeah, beautifully executed.
Stacey: And the scene where he is bindaas and that perfect song ‘Mera Jahaan’. The music was perfect, each and every son! We gave it a 4 when we did the music review.
Roshni: Yeah, the music was awesome. I loved how it was all montages.
Roshni: And no dancey numbers except ‘Bumbum bole’, which was amazingly choreographed. It was so normal.
Stacey: Adorable and the song goes through my head all the time and is now going through my head.
Stacey: Aamir really worked so well with the kids.
Roshni: He worked like magic with them.
Stacey: He really did. I loved the scene when they are painting and he reacted to them.
Stacey: Ooh what about Darsheel’s friend – loved him too.
Roshni: Yes!! great kid too!
Roshni: What didn’t work for you in the film?
Stacey: Hmmm… not much really. I think the length of him at the fancy school before Aamir came was a bit long. So mainly editing I guess. They maybe could have gotten to the discovery of his dyslexia sooner.
Roshni: Yeah, I agree. It took far too long to get to that point.
Stacey: Yeah it did. I also wish we had seen more of the Father changing.
Stacey: What about you?
Roshni: Yeh, I think that the film wasn’t catered to everyone. You had to be educated and open minded to watch and even understand it.
Stacey: Yes! I agree.
Stacey: On the DVD they have it dubbed in English and it really bothered me, I know I am a bolly-snob but I could not watch it that way.
Stacey: I know they did it so more would be likely to watch it, but for me it really took away from the film.
Roshni: Yeah ,I watched it in Hindi and don’t know if i would have liked it dubbed in English. But it is good for the Non-Hindi speaking people.
Stacey:: Songs were still in Hindi – thank goodness – I was worried.
Stacey: A friend made a really good point when I was talking about this with her: she said, A friend pointed out, too, that a film about dyslexia with subtitles would be kind of ironic. Plus the dubbing would also to appeal to a family with children who might not be able to read quickly/well. Which I had not thought of in either case.
Roshni: That is a really good point.
Stacey: Overall star rating? Music and movie.
Roshni: Hmmmmm 4 for sure.
Stacey: Yeah, me too.
Roshni: I don’t know why I cant give it 5.
Stacey: I would probably go to a 4.5.
Roshni: Definitely one the best to come out of Bollywood.
Stacey: Do you think it will open audiences eyes to dyslexia?
Roshni: Oh yeah sure! I think it already has. It opened doors to dyslexia and autism too.
Stacey: Ooh that reminds me of the scene at Tulip school with the ‘Taare Zameen Par’ song. So beautiful.
Stacey: It really presented it all so well and gave a lot of things to think about, not only as people but also if you are in the education field.
Stacey: Do you think it will resonate in the US?
Roshni: You know its a totally different audience here.
Roshni: So, I think that the audiences will appreciate that the film talks about a topic that is considered a taboo.
Stacey: Completely agree! And also maybe show that what Bollywood films are “thought” to be in the West, really are so much more and get more people watching them.
Roshni: Yeah exactly. Open doors to a new audience.
Stacey: Yeah, so it is great for opening eyes to dyslexia, autism and bollywood and they should be commended for that.
Roshni: Yeah, absolutely.
Stacey: Aamir as a director?
Roshni: Ohh ace – he is cinematic genius. He was so natural. There was nothing special… it was simple. He relied on the script.
Stacey: Yeah, exactly! You never felt the presence of the director.
Stacey: Did you like the father Vipin Sharma?
Roshni: I thought he did well. I wasn’t exactly excited by him, but yes, he did well.
Stacey: He did really well looking lost and not understanding.
Roshni: Yes, and like he didn’t understand what dyslexia was.
Stacey: And the scene where he came to see Aamir and said we care and Aamir told that story
about the trees, that was an amazing scene.
Roshni: I liked it when he cried and realized he had been wrong.
Stacey: Yes, that was great.
Stacey: Speaking of crying- how many times did you cry?
Roshni: For me? The climax turned on a fountain. And you?
Stacey: I admit to LOTS
Stacey: Maa song
Stacey: Ishaan at school depressed
Stacey: ‘Taaze Zammen Par’ song at Tulips
Stacey: Mom looking that the videos and books.
Roshni: I really liked Tisca Chopra
Stacey: Yes! She was fabulous.
Stacey: So… LOTS!
Roshni: Awwwwwwwww! Yes, it was a real tear jerker.
Stacey: But it was a good tear jerker. Know what I mean? It really moved you.
Roshni: Yeah, exactly it wasn’t a bad one you were moved
Stacey: There are so many fabulous scenes.
Roshni: The film is filled with it.
Stacey: I keep thinking of them…like when Aamir is working with him to get him to read better – every second is done well.
Roshni: I loved it. The film was totally award worthy.
Stacey: Amole Gupte wrote the script and he worked with kids like Ishaan and at the Tulip school. I like how they snuck in there how they want to have inclusion of kids into the mainstream.
Roshni: I agree.
Stacey: Did you like the animation?
Roshni: Yeah I loved it. It flowed with the film.
Stacey: When he was doing the math test…I just noticed this time it was bindaas again- his ship’s name
Roshni: That was awesome! I loveeeeddd it!
Stacey: It was so a little boy and his thoughts.
Roshni: It was honest and real. I can imagine a child like that in his own world
Stacey: Me too!
Stacey: It is also a film you can watch again and again and probably see more.
Roshni: Oh yeah, it’s a repeat watch.
Stacey: For example, I did not notice when he is first at the boarding school that fact he could not tie his tie or get dressed was part of his dyslexia.
Stacey: Another great scene was when Nikumbh sir shows all the people with dyslexia, he showed Abhishek Bachchan and Einstein and many others that was great.
Roshni: Yeah, I liked the comparisons and how it made sense. You could relate.
Stacey: Exactly and you knew that the kids could relate.
Stacey: Would it make your top 10 list?
Roshni: Yesssssssss of courseeeee! One of the best films to come out of Bollywood.
Stacey: Yes!!!! It had everything and definitely on my top 10 list!
Stacey: So to sum up – why do you love Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth)?
Roshni: It’s honest, entertaining and Aamir Khan rocks!
Stacey: Yeah! Real, amazing performances, fab music, moving, one of the best scripts and directors and ok I could keep going but better stop now!
Stacey here: thought I would also write a bit about the second disc in Like Stars on Earth DVD that has all the extra features, which I always love. There are the standard promos, trailers and stills, but also much more. One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing was a “making of” video. It is a great watch and it is even better because it has subtitles that you can turn on. Many times on Hindi film DVDs the “making of” and deleted scenes do not include subtitles. Speaking of deleted scenes – they have seven deleted scenes and a bonus because before each scene, Aamir (in his Ghajini hair style) talks about why he liked the scene and also why in the end it ended up on the cutting room floor! Definitely check those out! There is also a fabulous panel discussion about dyslexia with Aamir and experts in the field from India. Very informative! Do not miss any of the extras!
Taare Zameen Par is really a perfectly titled film. The film is really about real stars on earth. As humans we tend to look down on people and children who are not up to our standards. However, it is those children who ultimately make a difference on our planet. It took Aamir Khan to realize that a film depicting dyslexic children are simply out-casted and not catered for needed to be made. What transpired after was nothing short of a miracle and clearly showed the power of cinema. Across many metros in India, education officers decided the need to stand up for such children. Taare Zameen Par has done what no other film in Hindi cinema has done before; made a difference. If you have not yet seen this film run out and get your copy of Like Stars on Earth today, it truly is one of the best and we highly recommend it to all.