ByÂ Deepak Venkateswaran:
Kind of late to write a review yet I couldn’t hold back myself writing about this, as I feel this is another movie which hasn’t got the recognition and fame it deserves. And I had to do my bit to change this. I honestly have no words on the impact the movie has left on me. I can only hope I do justice to the review. Released in August 2011, and I saw it in April 2012, I am Kalam totally swept me off my feet. A movie which I must say triggered me to think again and again about what I can do with my life. A very touching and sensible eye-opener by Nila Madhab Panda.
This movie deals with the life of Chhotu (Harsh Mayar), a poor boy with an extraordinary brain, and a deep burning desire to learn and to be able to wear a tie when he grows up. Chhotu’s family’s financial conditions force his mother (Meena Mir) to pawn him off to work in a roadside dhaba (food joint) , under Bhati ( Gulshan Grover) the kind owner of the dhaba. It is here that Chhotu first sees Dr. Kalam on TV and gets inspired by him and dreams of wearing a tie like him. Meanwhile Chhotu re-brands himself as Kalam, to whoever asks his name and very soon becomes the pulse of the little joint. With an inquisitive nature to learn from foreigners who visit the dhaba, and entertain them, he wins the hearts of many. His biggest treasures are a couple of books that he keeps locked in his box. He spends all his free time on them.
The turning point to Kalam’s life comes when he meets and befriends Kunwar Ranvijay (Hussan Saad) from the erstwhile royal family, who run a heritage hotel there. Slowly the friendship between them grows, as the former shares the latter’s loneliness, and both help each other, unaware of the status-quo which forbids the prince from befriending people from lower castes (as per his father’s customs). Eventually things take a very serious turn, as their friendship is caught, when Kalam is falsely accused of stealing from the palace, and in a fit of rage he runs off to Delhi with a truck driver where he tries to meet the president.
The whole movie is shot in the inner parts of Rajasthan (except for the climax), near the desert beautifully covering the colours and flavours of the state. The visuals of Mohana Krishna have done their job flawlessly, keeping the rich heritage of the locations as they are. The songs of the film, though very few are beautifully done with the lyrics of Shivji Doli and Kishan Thukral being melodiously complemented by the notes of Susmit Jose. The dialogues are fabulously well written with the perfect timing, in the very much local dialect of Hindi, the one with the Rajasthani slang. A big applause to Sanjay Chauhan for the wonderfully written script.
#1.Â The biggest and most inspiring part of the film I felt is the originality in it, as the character of Chhotu by Harsh Mayar, who is actually a boy from the slums of Delhi. The closeness to the character was something I admire the actors for. The whole point of the movie that it taught me was, that you alone are the one who could shape your destiny. If you have a burning desire like Chhotu to come up in life, then even God cannot hold you back for a long time. You write your own destiny. Where there is passion to rise, eventually the obstacles have to make way for you.
#2. Our society teaches us that you cannot change your destiny or fate as some people call it. But the truth is that it’s nothing about fate or destiny, but all about your “Karma”. Your actions determine you and define your destiny.
#3. There is not just one, but millions of Chhotu’s who are losing their childhood, and innocence in the hard strokes life is giving them. This movie is a tribute to them, but it is useless unless there is a move towards changing the situation.
A conceptually brilliant, socially awakening, emotionally touching, and seriously worth-watching movie.