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Upperstall Review



Official Site

Stanley ka Dabba


Hindi, Comedy, Drama, 2011, Color

Cast And Crew

Like most others his ilk, Stanley loves to be amongst friends and win the appreciation of his peers and colleagues. He uses his sparkling wit and innocent wisdom to impress everyone he touches. At times spinning-a-yarn amongst friends about his mother's flight, while on occasion conjuring some heartfelt poetry to impress the lovely English teacher, Rosy Miss (Divya Dutta). There are though teachers like the pungent Science Madam, Ms Iyer (Divya Jagdale) whose rigid beliefs smother Stanley's innovative science experiment with all the contempt at her disposal. And then there is the gluttonous Hindi master, Verma Sir or Khadoos (Amole Gupte) who emerges as the catalyst in helping the boys bond for Stanley's dignity and rightful place in the school...

Forget all the controversy that surrounded Taare Zameen Par (TZP) when Aamir Khan took over the directorial reins from Amole Gupte. With Stanley Ka Dabba, Gupte proves just how strong his directorial credentials are and how! This charming 'little film with the big heart' is undoubtedly the Hindi film of the year so far.

After his script for TZP, Gupte again shows there are few who understand child psychology better than him. The film grabs you right from Gitanjali Rao's cute animated title sequence and takes you right in. Several scenes take you back to your own school days and Gupte captures the wonder years with a charming simplicity that leaves you grinning from ear to ear - the left handy and the right handy jostling over writing space on the same desk and its practical solution for one. Scenes involving the run around the kids give Khadoos to avoid giving him food from Aman's dabba work really well and the sight of Khadoos running all over the field looking for them is a scream! Looking at the children and their antics, the best moments (and there are many) remind you at times of Jean Vigo's masterpiece Zero de Conduite - no mean feat this. But the film is not just fun and games. In the midst of all the humour, Gupte deftly weaves in issues critical to children in today's harsh and competitive world - encouraging their creativity and just letting them be for one.

The great Maurice Chevalier once said he dreaded acting with children and animals as according to him - just by being natural, they effortlessly steal the show from the adults. How very true! The youngsters in the film are extremely well cast and carry the film nicely on their little shoulders. Patho, playing the title role, is simply superb capturing every shade of his character perfectly. He is specially endearing when he plays the total gasbag making up stories. He gets great support from Numaan Sheikh playing the kid with the big, tasty dabba while Abhishek Reddy, Saisharan Shetty, Monty Sarkar, Leo Crasto, Ganesh Pujari and Walter D'Souza more than leave their mark. It's just so refreshing to see kids playing well, kids. The adults, especially Gupte as the slimy Hindi teacher after the children's dabbas, Divya Dutta as the understanding Rosy Miss, Divya Jagdale (just see the way she goes "You think I'm giving sweets?"), Raj Zutshi, Aditya Lakhia, Rahul Singh and Shiv Subrahmanyam handle their roles efficiently enough. Gupte deserves special mention as his role was in high danger of being turned into a total caricature but he walks the thin line admirably.

The technicalities go right with the film. The music is well integrated with the main storyline and mention must be made of cinematographer Amol Gole's play with natural light (though the auditorium scene with the grains sticks out), the simple yet evocative sound design by Madhu Apsara and Dwarak Warrier and the background score, which rare for a Hindi film, is not overblown and in your face.

That said, the film does stumble a wee bit in the more serious bits in the second half after a delightful first one. The rounding off the Khadoos story doesn't quite come off convincingly. The talent show too is weakly filmed in comparison with rest of the film. And while he thankfully stays clear of preachiness, the bits with Stanley's actual life revealed at the end don't quite carry that emotional wallop or poignancy that Gupte might have been hoping for. What's more, the scenes seem to go on too long post the revelation. Smartly however, Gupte keeps the revelation to the audiences only and rounds off the proceedings nicely enough to leave you coming out of the theatre with a smile on your face.

All in all, Stanley ka Dabba is well, well worth a watch. Go for it. You won't regret it, not one bit!

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan




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