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I Am Kalam - Movie Review

I Am Kalam is inspiring
By Aparajita Ghosh
Fri, Aug 05, 2011 15:23:27 GMT
 

I Am Kalam - Movie Review
The ApunKaChoice movie review of I Am Kalam. Where truth is stranger than fiction, art would obviously imitate life. The truth of former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam’s struggle through poverty -- we’re told he worked as a newspaper boy to fund his studies -- could ignite many an impressionable mind. The protagonist Chhotu of director Nila Madhab Panda’s directorial debut I Am Kalam is such a kid, stricken by poverty and many odds but carrying an unflagging desire to learn and be a ‘bada aadmi’ one day.

Chhotu (Harsh Mayar) is a poor precocious kid who works at a roadside dhaba in a dusty Rajasthan town to fend for his mother and sibling. He is quick-witted and has something to learn from everyone, be it picking up halting French from the tourists at the dhaba or learning English from a rich, lonely boy Ranvijay Singh (Husaan Saad), a kunwar from a nominally royal family. As Chhotu’s mother tells the genial dhaba owner Bhati (Gulshan Grover), “Chhotu ka dimag rail se bhi tez chale hai.”

If anything was needed to this tinderbox of potentiality, it’s the spark of inspiration. That comes from a republic day program on President Kalam in which Chhotu learns of the hardships the ‘missile man’ faced in his struggling days.

Thereafter, Chhotu dreams of becoming like Kalam and even takes on the name of Kalam. Thanks to his friendships with the kid kunwar and a French tourist (Beatrice Ordeix), Chhotu sets forth on the path of learning, but faces odds in the shape of a jealous co-worker (Pitobash Ghosh) and a hateful royalty that even labels him a thief.

I Am Kalam is not the usual triumph of the human spirit kind of story with a preachy sermon to boot. The film has an unassuming non-seriousness to it, despite the protagonist kid being buffeted by the blows of poverty. The smile on Chhotu’s face never fades and the sprightly demeanour never limps. A ray of hope glimmers all through the movie and yet director Nila Madhab Panda never panders to the stereotypes like a glorious triumphant moment for Chhotu in the end. No. Things are kept pretty much within the realm of reality. I Am Kalam is a story you believe in.

Kudos to child actor Harsh Mayar (winner of National Award) for breathing life into the character and the film. From the sidelines Gulshan Grover, Husaan Saad and Beatrice Ordeix chip in commendable performances.

All in all, I Am Kalam is a film that fills you with inspiration. Do watch it.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
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