A new English school-teacher also teaches music but ends up leading both teachers and students to revolt against the school management.A new English school-teacher also teaches music but ends up leading both teachers and students to revolt against the school management.A new English school-teacher also teaches music but ends up leading both teachers and students to revolt against the school management.
Finally, a refreshing film that deals with disgusting realities of some of these top-notch private schools in India: donation issues, discrimination against children based on their parents' financial status, the obnoxious atmosphere that reality TV shows create in a school's learning environment and unbridled interference by corporate trustees in school affairs.
The message of Pattshaala is simple - left to its own devices and without proper checks and controls, the teaching profession, one of the few remaining noble professions in this country, can also become victim of the same corrupt mindset that presently plagues other institutions especially corporate ones - putting profits before people, considering the end more important than the means and the top-down strategy of creating an environment of fear by dangling the carrot of money and the threat of expulsions.
The film is indeed a hard-hitting commentary on the impact that can take place over an entire organization (in this case, a school) when the leader (the Principal, played by Nana Patekar) decides to compromise core ethical values, and buckle under outside influence to create an unlivable atmosphere in the school, for both students as well as teachers. Against this backdrop, a lone protagonist (played by Shahid Kapur) resists, rising up to unify all teachers and students in questioning the decisions of the management and Principal, and giving a live demo to their pupils that passive resistance is the only way to achieve social justice.
An oft-quoted liner from the film, "The age of revolutions is not been relegated to the past. It can occur anytime, anywhere today." Indeed, for too long we Indians have relied on Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose and other charismatic leaders of the independence era to find our ethical compass as a nation- fact remains, with each passing generation, we need a new set of leaders, young and dynamic, who are able to selflessly dedicate themselves to refashion the youth's moral fabric.
And let me add, such people do exist. But, the media largely ignores their contributions, instead focusing on uninspiring and irrelevant stories that glorifies all sorts of scoundrels I see on TV today.
In summary, Patahshaala is a must-watch film, and a real exercise in coming face to face with your moral backbone. The film poses an interesting set of questions - what should one do when faced with dilemmas that are faced by the school principal depicted in the film.
Indeed, the author is of the opinion that ethics should be a compulsory subject in all primary schools of the country, and also institutions of higher learning, no matter what the stream is, technical or non- technical. Well, we do have something called "social studies" in schools but in my opinion, the subject can be broadly restructured to incorporate a strong ethical element, that too with practical lessons. Past studies has shown that if children are exposed to ethical decision- making through intensive class- room discussions, they're more likely to grow up into well-rounded citizens as adults, and question the wrongs and moral decay in society.
Performances by all lead characters were good, and thoroughly convincing. A few characters, such as that of the repugnant school administrator were a bit over-the-top and exaggerated, but understandable from the point of view of the script - there's no point in showing such characters in grey. Their underlying motive is abhorrent, and should be exposed in the true light.
- Apr 24, 2010