An impoverished boy forms an unlikely and unstable friendship with the lonely son of a nobleman.An impoverished boy forms an unlikely and unstable friendship with the lonely son of a nobleman.An impoverished boy forms an unlikely and unstable friendship with the lonely son of a nobleman.
But overall I found the film, too simple and sweet with an evenly paced narration and nothing exceptional. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Secondly, I was very disappointed with the under-written character of Gulshan Grover playing Bhaati, the dhaba owner. 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.
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.
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.
It was based around a small kid who after being told about the Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, becomes confident that only Chacha Nehru can solve the problems of his father and family. So, he decides to go to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister himself with a letter for him explaining all his problems. 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.
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.
- Aug 14, 2011