Stanley Ka Dabba Movie Review : For the child in you

Once when I was in School, in class 8 if I’m not wrong, our Geography teacher asked us as to what each one of us wanted to do become in life. There were the standard responses- Doctor, Engineer, Cricketer, Lawyer etc and some interesting one’s as well. I didn’t really know what to say. I mean come on- in the early days in School I used to fancy myself to be a cop, like some of my on screen heroes. Only to realize later on that it’s different to be an actual cop when compared to an on screen cop. I also wanted to be an actor, writer and so many other things from time to time. The only other thing that was seriously on my mind at that time when questioned in class, was to become a Doctor, but then I thought it sounded so ‘normal’ so I said I’d like to be one of the most popular (not notorious J) men in the Country/World. All the others in class started laughing, but the teacher admonished everyone and said “hey! At least he’s trying to do something really unique” and I beamed with a lot of satisfaction.
There are so many such incidents, which suddenly flooded my mind while watching Amole Gupte’s Stanley Ka Dabba, the movie that technically marks his debut as an independent filmmaker. The movie takes you into the life of Partho (Stanley), a lovable little school kid, who is adored by his friends and is very popular. Trouble comes in the form of Verma Sir (Amole Gupte), the Hindi teacher who has a habit of siphoning food from the tiffin boxes of students and teachers alike. Stanley for his part does not carry a ‘dabba’ to school but his friends are always there to share theirs with him. This is something that does not go well with Verma Sir and then the kids try their own ways of steering clear of him. What happens later is what the rest of the film is all about. The film has so many tender moments that it is difficult not to control your emotions while watching the film.
Divya Dutta as Rosy Miss, the English teacher is wonderful and she clearly makes you remember your favorite teacher in school. Divya Jagdale as the Science teacher, Mrs.Iyer is very effective as well. Amole Gupte as Verma Sir sinks into the character so well that you actually start despising him after a while and that shows how effective his portrayal has been. Even some of the other characters including those of Stanley’s friends are exactly the way the story demands. And Partho, take a bow my little champion- what an awesome portrayal indeed. Comparisons are bound to be there with Darsheel Safary (for Taare Zameen Par), but I’ll certainly say that Partho holds his ground very well over here. One of the other highlights of the movie is the opening credit animation sequence, which instantly puts you at ease and makes you look forward to the rest of the film.
The film has enough and more going for you and is a great way to go back in time and revisit your own days in school. And thankfully the film doesn’t have any stereotypical kids, which makes you relate to the movie a lot better. By now the guerilla style filmmaking techniques employed in this film (shot on Canon 7D only on Saturdays and other school holidays alone) have become legendary. Nowhere does it hamper the film in any ways and rather only emphasizes the fact that good movies can be made with a lot of conviction as the primary tool. The songs composed by Hitesh Sonik (with lyrics by Amole Gupte) are simple, heart warming and fall in line with the tempo the film. While there is an important message at the end of the film, nowhere is there an attempt made at sensationalizing the agenda.
In today’s competitive World when children are saddled with a lot of pressure at home and elsewhere, it is nice to see movies like these, which still manage to bring out the innocence in children to the open. Life is too short to be just wasted by ruminating over petty things and there are lot more positive things to look at. This is another aspect that the movie tries to bring out. What was even more amazing was watching the movie on a Sunday morning at 10.30 a.m and finding the show to be houseful (something that is unheard of even for the bigger movies in that time slot). That my friends, is the power of WOM (word of mouth) and it’s heartening indeed to see the patronage being extended wherever the movie is on display.
Now the film is out and well into the 2nd week it is all right to debate and see if the movie is worth all the attention its receiving or not, whether the movie is better than TZP or not and so on and so forth. But Amole Gupte certainly deserves all the appreciation for sticking to his conviction and making the movie in the way he wanted. I do not think I have in anyway become the popular person I set out to be, but yes I am happy that at least the movie reminded me that when I was in school I did think of doing something big in life. This movie is definitely for the child in all of us and yes remember the child in us will also get hungry while watching the movie (you’ll understand when you watch it) 🙂

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