Taare Zameen Par (original title) PG | 2h 45min | Bollywood family drama/musical (available in DVD on Amazon)
When I worked as a pediatrician, I prescribed antibiotics and other medications to heal. When I transitioned my practice to homeopathy and Ayurveda, I would prescribe homeopathic medications and at times herbal preparations. These days, as a coach and teacher of inner peace, in addition to sharing meditation, writing and other self-reflection exercises, I often prescribe movies!
Many times, we watch a movie for entertainment to pass time. Perhaps we use movies as an escape- maybe a way to distract ourselves from our own life. We crave the feeling of being transported to a new world, amidst characters that make us cry and laugh, and inspire us to find hope or even fall in love.
Yet what if this attraction to movies can be used to heal?
In my experience, a movie that is well-written, brilliantly directed and casted perfectly can be a recipe for powerful transformation. Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth) is such a movie- a Bollywood drama about a special bond between a teacher, Ram (Aamir Khan) and an 8-year-old boy, Ishaan (Darsheel Safary) with dyslexia and learning disabilities.
Ishaan is a young boy with a wonderful, rich imagination and a precocious talent for colors, drawing and art. He loves collecting fish from the nearby pond and playing with the neighborhood dogs. However, when he tries to read or write, the letters ‘dance’ before his eyes and nothing makes sense. He fails miserably in all his school subjects no matter how hard he tries to learn. When he tries to catch a ball, or play with the other neighborhood kids, he cannot keep up. When they tease him, he ends up getting into fights. To cope with his growing inner sense of being ‘different’ from other kids, he retreats more and more into drawing and coloring, creating masterpieces and books of art- that clearly display an aptitude well beyond his age.
Yet in the eyes of his family, the neighborhood parents and kids, and the school teachers and administrators, Ishaan becomes a host of labels. Lazy. Idiot. The problem child. A school failure. The trouble maker. Oppositional-defiant. Duffer. Even crazy.
No one realizes the underlying cause of Ishaan’s problems. And no one seems to value his precocious talent. When the school threatens to expel Ishaan for his unsatisfactory performance, his dad decides to ship him to boarding school in the middle of the school year. He is convinced that all Ishaan needs is some strict discipline. Things at boarding school quickly go from bad to worse, as the fun-loving, mischievous Ishaan, now spirals into a deep depression, forgetting his love of play, color, and art.
One of my favorite quotes from A Course in Miracles states that “healing is the effect of minds that join, while sickness comes from minds that separate.” Taare Zameen Par/Like Stars on Earth is a powerful movie that beautifully illustrates the sense of separation we can feel in so many different circumstances. When we are misunderstood, labeled or even ostracized and shunned by others because we cannot ‘perform’ in a particular way. When we feel lost and confused because no matter what we do, we just cannot fit into the mold of ‘success’ that is prescribed by the prevailing norms of society. Or when, we feel we have buried our gifts under years of trying to ‘fit in’ that leaves us feeling empty, unhappy and leading a life devoid of color, passion and art.
Finally, if you are a parent, teacher or anyone caring for children, this movie is a must-see. It beautifully illustrates how a child can heal, and realize his innate potential with the love of just one caring and devoted adult. As Ram, the art teacher, joins with Ishaan on his journey from disability to self-discovery, we witness not only his healing, but the healing of his family and the entire school community.
Here is a trailer of the movie.
To read more about how this movie was made, click here