Sunday, April 18, 2010

Paathshaala - film review

Worth Mass-bunking

Director: Milind Ukey
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Ayesha Takia, Saurabh Shukla and Anjan Srivastav
Rating: *

Even some of the worst films have something to redeem themselves with, but Paathshaala is an atrocity that’s hard to sum up in words. The film is relentlessly cringe-worthy, with some of the most appalling writing (choreographer Ahmed Khan) one has seen in a long time.

Debutant Milind Ukey’s direction is shockingly amateurish and heavy-handed, and it doesn’t help that he flashes his FTII credentials in the title credits in the hope of winning some brownie points. Every scene is exaggerated, every response overdone. He even makes a competent actor like Anjan Srivastav ham it to the hilt. The background music takes the cue from the director’s simplistic, loud narrative, and ends up making Paathshaala an experience that is worse than the most dreadful day you can recollect from school life.

So you have a boarding school (tacky set) in the middle of nowhere, where Nana Patekar is the principal. In Mohabbatein style, his authority evokes fear among the staff and students. Shahid Kapoor joins as an English teacher, but since he has some training in music, Nana suggests that he could double up as a music teacher as well! Someone has to sing the romantic songs you see. But he’s not the only teacher who is expected to multitask. There’s Ayesha Takia, who works as nutritionist, hostel matron, canteen manager and make-shift music teacher.
Again, Ukey’s idea of a Hindi teacher is someone who looks like a ’70s actress, with a bouffant and rose stuck to it.

Nana acquaints his teachers about the emerging competition from other schools and the need to introduce more hi-tech facilities. The school fees are increased in the middle of the term and Nana’s high-handed assistant (Saurabh Shukla) rudely dismisses off parents who protest.
To create more visibility for the school, a PR agency is hired. Soon, television channels are brought in to hold auditions in the school. The way Ukey presents these people who take auditions — they either talk on the phone as the kids perform, or yell at them when they forget to name the sponsors — is caricaturish and silly. I resist from mentioning the other scenes, because they are just embarrassingly bad. Suffice it to say, the film is an insult to one’s intelligence and gets progressively offensive with every passing scene. Schools to teachers to students to TV channels might just want to sue Ukey and they would be justified!

Taare Zameen Par beautifully brought out many things that need to be questioned about the education system and our attitude to children. And perhaps, more films can be made on aspects relating to school life. Educational institutions getting commercialised is a valid issue. Similarly, the trend of having children on various reality shows, where they are faced with gruelling hours and unrealistic expectations, is possibly another story that can be explored. Ahmed Khan and Ukey are just not the guys for it.

The performances are decent. How Shahid manages to come out of this embarrassing tripe without causing irrevocable damage to his image is a wonder. But the actor needs to pull up his socks and stop doing films as favours for his old pals. Nana Patekar’s role is listless and for the first time, you get the feeling that the actor himself is not convinced about his role. Saurabh Shukla shines in a role that could have been unbearable in the hands of a lesser actor.
This school is then, only an education for aspiring filmmakers on how not to make a film.


Anonymous Akshay Shah said...

Dont know what the makers were thinking with this one..what an absolute snooze-fest!

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