'I Am Kalam' is a great addition to series of children's films that have released recently. It comes from an unlikely producer, "Smile Foundation', an NGO which works towards educating underprivileged children.
'I am Kalam' is the story of Chhotu (Harsh Mayar), a child from a poor family, somewhere in Rajasthan who is left by his mother at a roadside dhaba on the highway, owned by his Mama, Bhati (Gulshan Grover) to work and earn money for the family.
Chhotu is smart and a fast learner and his mother knows that, but can't afford to send him to school. His smartness is shown in two simple and innovative ways, without any drama and thats what I liked about the movie. It's so real and yet so touching and beautiful. You won't think for a moment, that this can't happen in real life. In the first incident, he cures some infection in a camel using some plants that grow in the desert which he remembers learning from an ayurvedic doctor. But, he is not very confident of success, as he has never tried it before. So, he also whispers to the camel to save his face before going to bed. In the second instance, when he is asked to make tea by Bhati, he fails to impress him, but when his Mama shows him, how to make it, he manages to do it quite well, leaving Bhati surprised.
In the dhaba, there is also Laptan (Pitobash Tripathy) who imitates Big B and dreams of becoming a hero and starring in a movie with Bipasha and Kareena. While Chhotu wants to study and become a 'big' man, Laptan lives in his dreams. Chhotu quickly starts learning from the foreigners who visit the Dhaba and manages to impress Bhati, too. This makes Laptan jealous. There are some great moments between Chhotu and Laptan in the movie.
One day, Chhotu gets inspired by a speech of President APJ Abdul Kalam he hears on TV addressed to kids, where he asks them to believe in 'karma' and take charge of their own destiny. He changes his name to Kalam and moves with his new found confidence. He also dreams of meeting the President one day.
Kalam sees children taking the bus to school near the dhaba and strikes a friendship with the local Rajput prince, Ranvijay (Hussan Saad) who lives in a palace converted to a heritage hotel where he goes to deliver tea. Ranvijay is a lonely prince without any friends and the girls in the palace won't play with him. While Kalam teaches the prince to climb trees and Hindi, the prince teaches him English and they become inseparable. We all made such pacts in our childhood. Obviously, Ranvijay's father or anyone else for that matter know of this friendship.
When Lucy, a French woman comes to the dhaba, Bhati is shown smitten by her. While Kalam starts learning from Lucy, Bhati is clearly infatuated by her. After a misunderstanding and display of true and innocent friendship, a bond built on trust and loyalty, the movie comes to an end. But, not before driving home a message: 'The Children come to school not only for information, but also for transformation'.
Performances are all top notch. Gulshan as 'Not-the-bad man' is great. Though, he is the only big name in the movie, he clearly let the other performers steal the show. Pitobash is wonderful too in his role and so is Beatrice Ordeix as Lucy. The children (Harsh and Hussan) steal the show completely with their effortless acting.
This is one movie which has it's heart at the right place. If you liked movies like Stanley Ka Dabba and Udaan (though this one movies at a faster pace), don't miss this one. Wish some big star like Aamir Khan was producing this movie, it would have got much more publicity and a larger audience, which it truly deserves. And good movie lovers deserve to watch movies like this, once in a while.
Smile Foundation put a BIG smile on my face. Go and get one for yourself. :)