Business rating: 1/5 star
Star cast: Harsh Mayar, Gulshan Grover, Pitobash Tripathy, Husaan Saad, Beatrice Ordeix, Meena Mir, Sanjay Chauhan.
What’s Good: Master Harsh Mayar’s natural performance; the well-intentioned subject; the cinematography.
What’s Bad: The slow pace of the narrative; the botched climax; lack of emotions in the drama.
Verdict: I Am Kalam will get critical acclaim and appreciation from the classes but its box-office prospects are rather dull.
Loo break: None.
Watch Or Not?: Watch I Am Kalam for Harsh Mayar’s performance.
Smile Foundation’s I Am Kalam is the story of the quest of a young boy who wants to study, in spite of his abject poverty.
Chottu (master Harsh Mayar), a young and smart boy, hails from a very poor family in Rajasthan but dreams of becoming a big and successful man one day. He works at a roadside dhaba to support his family. Bhati (Gulshan Grover), a large-hearted man, is Chottu’s boss. A young man, Laptan (Pitobash), also works at the dhaba, and dreams of becoming a superstar.
As soon as Chottu starts working at the dhaba, he earns the admiration of Bhati and the foreigner guests at the dhaba because of his intelligence and flair for languages. He also spends a considerable time reading books and listening to the speeches of the president of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, which he finds inspiring. Chottu even starts addressing himself as Kalam. The simple-minded Laptan grows jealous of the attention Chottu has been getting.
Chottu also befriends Ranvijay (Hussan Saad), the son of the erstwhile Maharaja of the area, and the duo spends a lot of time together, playing and studying, in spite of the Maharaja (Sanjay Chauhan) asking his son not to spend time with kids who do not belong to the same class. Chottu also endears himself to Lucie (Beatrice Ordeix), a French lady, with whom Bhati is secretly in love. Lucie promises Chottu that she’d take him to Delhi to meet the president.
Soon, Chottu’s dreams start crumbling one by one. A jealous Laptan burns his books; Bhati, who is emotionally hurt to learn that Lucie is a married woman, slaps Chottu; his secret friendship with Ranvijay is exposed; and he is taken by the Maharaja, to be a thief, is beaten and asked never to come back into the heritage hotel, where the Maharaja stays, ever again.
In spite of all this happening, Chottu, who is determined to fulfill his dream of meeting the President, takes off for Delhi. What happens next? Is Chottu able to fulfill his dreams? What does Ranvijay do when he finds out about Chottu’s fate? What about Bhati, Lucie and Chottu’s mom? The rest of the film answers these questions.
I Am Kalam Review – Script Analysis
Sanjay Chauhan’s script is well-intentioned and well-written. The parts where Chottu impresses Bhati with his smartness, where he befriends Ranvijay and where he works hard the whole night writing a speech for Ranvijay, are heart-warming. Scenes of Bhati’s awkward and sporadic expression of his love for Lucie are funny and so is the track of Laptan getting scared by an imaginary ghost. The sequence where Lucie, Chottu and other guests at the dhaba break into an impromptu song is also well-conceived.
However, the screenplay is not without its drawbacks . Firstly, the drama moves at a very slow pace. Although the film is only about two hours long, the fact that it has no songs and no interval, will make it a little tiresome to watch, especially for the masses. Secondly, the lack of tear-jerking moments in the screenplay lessen the impact of the drama. The climax is a rushed affair, almost seeming as if the makers wanted to finish the film fast. Also, for a drama of this sort, the audience will expect a better and bigger ending than is offered in the movie. All in all, the way in which the script has been written, will appeal more to a select few in the classes than the masses.
I Am Kalam Review – Star Performances
Master Harsh Mayar delivers a superb and natural performance as Chottu/Kalam. His acting is indeed the highlight of the film. Hussan Saad (as Ranvijay) does a competent job. Gulshan Grover is very good as the likeable Bhati. Pitobash will elicit the audience’s laughter. Beatrice Ordeix and Sanjay Chauhan support well. Namrata Dixit, Meena Mir and Garima fill the bill.
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