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I AM KALAM - Movie Review : A sweet, simple movie which reminded me of Raj Kapoor's \"Ab Dilli Door Nahin\" but nothing exceptional. (Review by Bobby Sing)

05 Aug, 2011 | Movie Reviews / 2011 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / I

Smile Foundation’s I AM KALAM is an award winning movie, which has received many honors and appreciated reviews both in abroad as well as in India. No doubt the subject of the film remains one of the favourites of the award giving authorities which happens to be child labour, child education and class divide in India, exploiting the colorful key features of Rajasthan and its people.

But overall I found the film, too simple and sweet with an evenly paced narration and nothing exceptional. Since, you must be reading so many great reviews of the film over the net, so it is essentially required that I must give my reasons of not considering the film that great.
It starts off with a poor mother leaving his 10 years old son at a road side dhaba to work in order to help her financially. The dhaba is owned by a kind hearted person and has also another young man working as a helper who is a big fan of Amitabh Bachchan. As the story moves forward the kid becomes friends with another boy of his age only who is a local prince belonging to a royal family of Rajasthan. Now this boy working at the Dhaba, likes to be called Kalam, as his wants to be a big person like the former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. With the help of his friend, he starts studying taking his school books at the dhaba. Later, due to few misunderstanding, Kalam leaves for Delhi to meet the president and the rest come after, searching for him. And then the film ends at a positive note endorsing child education and equal opportunity theory for all as expected.
Now if we talk about the merits of the film, the biggest one remains the award winning child artist, Harsh Mayar’s performance who is confident, impressive and sweet all together in the role of Kalam. In fact he is the only one who carries the whole film on his small shoulders like a mature actor and stands tall in front of veteran Gulshan Grover. And both Gulshan and Pitobash Tripathy shine brightly in their underwritten roles too. The other merit of the film is its pace and editing which doesn’t give you any dull moment and the film reaches its end quite effortlessly. But in the end as I said earlier you just feel like seeing a fine, sweet film but nothing more than that.
Director Nila Madhab Panda shows his sparks in his debut venture, especially in the way he gets the job done from the kids involved in the film. Plus he also takes great care that there must not be any slow moment in his movie right till the end and it should not have any un-necessary melodrama becoming preachy for the audience. The film has a fine background score, striking dialogues and has an eye-catching cinematography showcasing Bikaner, camels and its hotel turned castles elegantly. And I strongly feel that its camera capturing Rajasthan in all its sparkling colours must have influenced the western viewers as usual.
However I really didn’t like the way the DOP captured the world famous Karni Mata’s Temple of Bikaner, which has thousands of rats moving in the premises of temple freely. Believe me, being there is a different divine experience completely where rats keep moving on your feet as they know you from ages. I really wish the Temple was shown in a much better way since probably it’s the first time a movie has featured the place ever on the silver screen. Anyway if possible do visit the place if you really want to see the unbelievable with your own eyes.
Coming to the points which force me to declare its nothing exceptional, the first has to be the overall feel of the movie. As I see it, I AM KALAM keeps floating on the verge of a deep sea and never enters its deepness. The message of the film does not hit you hard about child education or abolishing the class system in the society. The film just touches all these subjects gently and simply moves on. So in the end you feel like that you have watched something pleasant made on this plot but nothing great which could move you from the inside.
Secondly, I was very disappointed with the under-written character of Gulshan Grover playing Bhaati, the dhaba owner. I was really puzzled with the writers that at one end they show that Bhaati is a very kind and intelligent man, always praising the sharp mind of the boy but on the other hand he never really is concerned about Kalaam’s education. He is very much interested in teaching the kid how to make Tea, but he is not interested in sending him to the nearby school ever. May be that was the way the director wanted to show Child labour, but due to that the character of Bhaati comes out to be very confusing.
Thirdly, what was the purpose of the one sided love angle track between the foreigner girl and Gulshan Grover? Undoubtedly this seems to be added only to involve the western audiences with the movie and nothing else since the plot has nothing to do with the main theme of the script.
Fourthly, there is very less emphasis given to the reason why the boy wants to become KALAM. In a country where even the city kids don’t care to remember the name of their President (unless asked in their papers), here is a village boy who is so much obsessed with the name, cause of which is not explained properly.
Lastly is the most interesting fact which struck me in the last half an hour of the film when Kalam runs away to Delhi in order to meet the honorable President. The plot reminded me of a 1957 Black & White Classic produced by Raj Kapoor and directed by Amar Kumar called AB DILLI DOOR NAHIN.  More remembered for its children song, “Chu Chu Karti Aayi Chidiya”, the film was boldly made on a very novel theme at that particular time of the century.
The film narrates the story of an innocent child Ratan’s journey from his village to Delhi in order to meet the then Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, who was also famous in the kids as Chacha Nehru. He wishes to tell Pandit Ji about his father’s innocence who has been falsely charged with a murder and believes that the PM is the only person who can help his family come out of this serious problem and no one else. Ratan has an important letter written as a proof by an eye witness that he wishes to hand over to Pandit Ji personally and how he painstakingly completes his journey meeting the PM, becomes the main crux of the script capturing human emotions and expectations quite beautifully.
Interestingly here in I AM KALAM too, the boy sets off to Delhi to meet Dr. Kalam with a letter in his hand for the President. I don’t know whether the makers had this classic in mind or not but it does have these acute similarities in its sub plot with the original film. Plus this particular part of the movie also remains its weakest one where everything keeps happening so easily around the key locations of Delhi and the high security buildings.
In the acting department, other than the spirited act by Kalam, Gulshan Grover supports the film with his full heart and Pitobash delivers an enjoyable performance. The second child actor, Husaan Saad playing the royal prince acts well and Beatrice Ordeix takes care of the glamour factor in the movie quite easily.
Overall, it remains a simple and sweet movie made around a relevant subject which in turn forced me to go for AB DILLI DOOR NAHIN once again. But I wasn’t convinced looking at the list of awards it has won in various festivals and am still wondering why it is being given such a high rating by all.
Ratings : 2.5 / 5 (Including 0.5 more only for its cause of Child Education)

Tags : Bobby Sing's Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, I Am Kalam Movie Review by Bobby Sing, I Am Kalam Film Review
05 Aug 2011 / Comments ( 8 )

Dear Bobby ji,

I feel strongly that you must publish a book with your observations. Further more, I am sure Salman Khan can support and promote it best as he is very genuine person.

.....and what could be more genuine than your remarks?


Bobby Sing

Thanks from the heart Vinay Ji.....I really wish somebody up above may listen to your kind wish........for myself....Cheers!


....."Believe me, being there is a different divine experience completely where rats keep moving on your feet as they know you from ages...."

Every time I see this temple ( on screen of course) I have goose bumps ...
I find it very surprising (in a good way of course!) that we may enjoy the feeling being there ... i don\'t think I will be able to support this ....

Bonne continuation

Bobby Sing

I know it can be difficult Fatiha, but the divine place does has some vibes which can be easily felt once you are in it really.

I forgot to say that i liked the film ... but you\'re right when you say ......\"Rajasthan in all its sparkling colours must have influenced the western viewers as usual.\" ....it\'s like advertisement and it works always ... because India is \"superbe\" .... you can\'t escape !!! ;-)
Bobby Sing

Thats right Fatiha and yes it always works too.

Hi Bobby Ji,
Just recently watched this movie while coming back from delhi to kolkata in a flight ....i simply loved & liked the movie for its simplicity.
It somehow seemed to touch & let go ...which @ times is effective in communcation . Even inspirational & hard subject movies also have limited impact in shaping up human beings they just pinch you a bit.No revolution happened with rang de basanti or any such movies.

Anyways I am a die hard fan of Dr. Kalam personally the Kalam persona for me is awesome ...he is such a motivation to common man .

In my opinion the gulshan grover\'s role is driven from real life....relating it to real life how many such good dhaba owenrs would care for such issues even if they are kind hearted.

I think it can be a good watch... again it is my very personal choice.
Bobby Sing

Thanks Harpreet for your comment and grat to know that you really liked film.
Keep Visiting for more.

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