Deconstructing The Scene – Taare Zameen Par – Nikumbh Sir Meets Ishan’s Parents

Some scenes stay with the audience, long after the film is over. It’s the sheer power of the scene that makes the audience take cognisance of it. Sometimes it’s the dialogue, sometimes it’s the performance of the actor and at times, simply nothing but the gaze of the lens of the camera piercing nothingness and conjuring pure magic. 

We, at The Cinemawala, bring you a new series, where we’ll discuss some unforgettable scenes of cinema, that awed the audience and became immortal in their hearts as well in the silver screen.  

Film – Taare Zameen Par

Scene – Nikumbh Sir Meets Ishan’s Parents

A knock on the door, makes Ishan’s mum open the door. A young man, with a really trendy hairstyle, greets her and gives his introduction. He’s Ram Shankar Nikumbh, a teacher at Ishan’s school. After going through Ishan’s old notebooks and paintings, Nikumbh gets to the point. Ishan isn’t doing well and the problem is something else. He asks for the reason to Ishan’s father, who already looks irritated with this intrusive man. Ishan’s father, Mr Nand Kishore Awasthi, a man proud of his elder son’s achievements and equally embarrassed about his troublesome younger son, states the problem is with Ishan’s attitude. He doesn’t want to study and has a temerity to cause nuisance wherever he goes. Nikumbh Sir tries to reason with him about Ishan’s predicament. Ishant has an issue with understanding the numbers, characters, figures but in vain. 

Seeing that Mr Nand Kishore not getting his point, Nikumbh Sir takes a toy whose instructions are in a foreign language. He asks Mr Nand Kishore to read the instructions, Perplexed with this, he tells him that how he can read a language that he doesn’t understand. Nikumbh Sir points out that why he’s not considering the fact that maybe Ishan has the same problem with alphabets and numbers. It’s a neurological problem called Dyslexia. Hearing this, the whole Awasthi family goes into a shock. Mr Awasthi argues with Nikumbh sir that how his son is going to cope in this world, which runs on sheer competition among peers. He dismisses his theory, incorrectly associating his son’s condition as mental retardation. Nikumbh Sir, frustrated with Mr Awasthi’s inability to comprehend the gravity of the situation, criticises him for turning a blind eye to his son’s condition. He argues that irrespective of his son’s performance in school, he’s a highly intelligent kid, which is illustrated clearly through his paintings and sketches. The scene ends with a helpless Mr Awasthi looking at Nikumbh sir and pondering about what he said. 

It’s an important scene in the film, as it discloses Ishan’s real problem to Ishan’s family and the audience. Dyslexia is a huge problem in growing children and this scene explains this rather complicated problem in a lucid way.  Just as Nikumbh sir explains the problem, it dawns upon the audience and even they start to relate it to their lives. Many of us have seen or must have studied with that student who found it difficult to comprehend classroom teachings. At that time, we may have laughed at his/her inability to understand a simple problem or an ordinary instruction. With this scene, all of that starts running in the mind, as it becomes synonymous with the symptoms of Dyslexia. Poignant yet thought-provoking!

Aamir Khan as Nikumbh Sir is earnest. He makes it a point to explain the problem, its symptoms and how it can trouble an innocent child. Tisca Chopra, as Ishan’s mother, portrays this scene rather poignantly. She has bare minimum dialogues yet she makes her presence felt. Her son’s troubles horrify her. She tears up as she could relate to Ishan’s problems. But the scene stealer here is Vipin Sharma as Nand Kishore Awasthi. A man, who measures success and failure through wins, awards, percentages, he is critical of his younger son’s academic performance. His theorises that Ishan’s laziness, his attitude towards studies have made him like this and his adamant about this until Nikumbh sir makes him realise the real problem. 

It’s a poignant scene, which brings a lump to the throat. Watch it here again –

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