Wednesday, January 04, 2012
After a dismal batting performance from Indian Cricket Team, I required something immersing that could take my mind of cricket. Sure, there were a lot of movies and the toughest decision, as always, was to zero in on a good one. Without much of a thought, I went to the Hindi section and started 'Stanley Ka Dabba' (SKD). Little did I know that I would be moved and compelled to write this, for it takes an effort and some sheer class for a movie to get this lazy blogger out of his deep slumber. And, believe me, there was no dearth either the class or the concept when it came to SKD.
Set in a good English medium school of Mumbai, SKD is a story of a talented kid named Stanley, his friends having fat 'Dabbas' (Lunchboxes) and a teacher. The teacher, a villain of sorts, is infamous for not managing his own lunchbox and being dependent on fellow teachers and students (particularly the Stanley lunch box gang) for his lunch. On the other hand, this innocent kid Stanley is helped by his friends during lunch hours. Jealous of Stanley, our teacher somehow always manages a bitter tongue for him. Set against this basic backdrop, SKD manages to move beyond the realms of a simple student teacher tussle. As a viewer, you can always sense bigger issues simmering at the sidelines. You can always tell that there is something more to the script; that the stage is set for a larger show. Eventually, when the final scene unfolds, SKD has the power to move you. Even the so called tough guys will find it hard to avoid a surge of compelling emotions that run through the body and overflow from the eyes. There are a little or no emotive dialogues. But the lack of it does not fail to drive home the point. In fact, it adds value to the communication of the whole idea. It is said that the deepest of human emotions are perceived in silence. No wonder the audience is given the time to ponder over the issue our society so badly faces.
SKD depicts the ability of Indian Cinema to give a voice to prevailing societal issues in an effective manner. At the same time, SKD is not condemning or restrictive in nature. On one hand where it deals with a problem, it also goes a long way to personify human courage and compassion. Never once in the ninety minutes of run-time, SKD fails to emphasize the importance of human dignity and self respect. All of this is packed in a very simple, easily digestible and effective package that keeps the viewer engrossed. In parts, the movie is also about small-small events that make the school life memorable. The innocence of childhood, the desire to excel and to be accepted is captured beautifully. In fact, there are times when, as a viewer, you are reminded of your school life and you feel the urge to go back to your school life and add a few feathers to the cap.
Overall, SKD is a powerful and compelling piece of Indian Cinema. It is a canvas where the soul of the art lies in the innocence and the colors are nothing the blacks and whites that define human existence. Undoubtedly, it is among the best movies that Bollywood has produced in recent times. In my list, it ranks with the likes of Udaan and Tare Zameen Par. A must watch !!