"On the Solomon islands, when the tribes need to clear the jungle to make way for fields, they don't cut down the trees , they simply gather and collect around it, and hurl abuses at the tree, they curse it. Slowly but surely, after some days, the trees begin to wither. It dies on its own." - Ram Shankar Nikumbh.
'Like Stars on Earth' tells the story of schoolboy Ishaan who is repeatedly failing his tests. He has difficulty reading and writing whilst his teachers seem intent on shouting at him or punishing him rather than trying to help him. It all becomes too much for Ishaan and he bunks class for a day with a fake absent note. When his his parents find out, they meet his teachers only to find out that Ishaan had been hiding letters meant for his parents - letters of concern. Ishaan is reluctantly sent to a boarding school to try and get him on track. It seemingly has no effect, until a supply art teacher takes Ishaan under his wing.
|Ishaan struggles to read in front of his class.|
Ishaan's over active imagination is one of the reasons behind his apparent lack of concentration. This is beautifully visualised in an animation sequence showing Ishaan's thought processes over the simple multiplication of three and nine. Instead of thinking mathematically, Ishaan imagines himself in a spaceship and that all of the planets are numbers - Earth being three and Pluto being nine. The spaceship grabs earth and drags it over to Pluto. It smashes Pluto smashing three into nine, destroying nine and leaving three. Ishaan sees three as the answer and writes it, just as the time runs out. The imagined logic behind his answer is never questioned, just simply marked as wrong.
|Ishaan's spaceship grabbing number three.|
My favourite Eminem lookalike Aamir Khan both directed the film and played the substitute teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh. In a more serious role than his last appearance in '3 Idiots' he does bring some comic elements to the fore. He is a very likeable character and adds an extra element to this film, even though he doesn't appear until over an hour in. With a runtime of two hours and forty five minutes it was a lengthy film but I have come to expect that now with Indian cinema. Similarly, I expected the song routines which I thought may seem a little out of place in a drama. I was wrong however and they were very good. Khan enters the film in a song dressed as a clown to endear himself to his new pupils.
|Guess who's back, back again.|
I thought the ending was a little predictable but it was a nice, heart-warming tale of a teacher believing in a student when no one else does, after seeing similarities in Ishaan and himself.
Up Next #230: