16 May, 2011

The lunch box fable ; Stanley ka Dabba

A long long time ago there was a guy called Aesop. He told simple tales about animals and people. There was a difference though, each of his story had a moral at the end of it thus giving a story the depth of a fable. These tales have become immortal and are popularly known as Aesop’s Fables or “Isaap Neeti”. This simple style of storytelling went missing until the last Friday the 13th May 2011.

 Along comes Amole Gupte to tell us a fable of a lunch box and a kid called  Stanley. He then makes it into a movie and calls it “Stanley ka Dabba”. 

Amole Gupte hit the radar of cine viewers with "Taare Zammen Par" a masterpiece of a story, it was later directed & produced by Aamir Khan and made history. Thereafter he was seen in a stellar cameo in Vishal Bharadwaj’s - Kaminney as the virulent right wing thug turned politico. This role was essayed with such a razor sharp brilliance that the world had found a new actor willing to stretch the envelope.

The sheer simplicity of the storytelling in "Stanley ka Dabba" is so elegant that one views the whole world through Stanley’s eyes. You are hooked right from the titles which by themselves are so creative that please don’t go late for the show. 

It is the story of Stanley and his Hindi teacher Babulal Verma. Stanley doesn’t ever bring a lunch box to the school and tells stories in free patches of class time; he eats up from his friends boxes. This trait has a deeper parallel in Verma Sir’s personality who himself is a cheap freeloader. Verma Sir, played by Amole Gupte himself…absolutely superb…is deservedly called “Khadoos” by his students. For sure we have, when in school given special names to some of our teachers. The instant naming ritual is invariably so apt that it sticks to the teacher forever. 
Haven’t we all had crushes on some of our teachers like “Rosie miss” who is at the cusp of her new life, enacted by the lovely easy performing Divya Dutta .The stern faced science teacher “Mrs.Iyer” Divya Jagdale is quite superb in her role as the rather self centered, portion specific, blinkered vision teachers we largely encounter in our schools. 

But quite simply the movie belongs to Stanley played by Partho Numaan and his clique of friends, who fight, frolic and generously share life space with each other freely. Childhood is the one time where there are no inhibitions, as to who is who and the dividing lines are yet to appear. It is in this aspect that the movie scores.The film maker deserves a double pat on his back for not only writing a superb script but also preserving the spontaneity of the main characters. It is a balancing act of the highest order. The message that seeps across to us at the end of the movie is so very gently put out that it hits all the more harder on this account.

The movie sizzles like the tadka’s and the jhaukas from the pots, pans and tiffin( Lunch) boxes being stuffed by mothers that the lines of a song, lyrics written by Gupte himself poke at you…"don’t look so critically…at the food…its not just food but love packaged in a tiffin box." The camera by Amol Gole, (he surely has to be a foodie) teases your eyes, to a point that one almost smells the aroma of the food as it gets prepared, packed or unpacked when each Dabba is opened. Very rightly goes the catch line of the movie…”Every Dabba has a story”. The cameos by Shivkumar Subramanian & Raj Zutshi as the teachers, Aditya Lakhia as the peon, Rahul Singh as the Jesuit Principal and the rest of the cast are so competent that it seamlessly becomes the world of Stanley and his Holy Family High School. There is a cinema for kids and a cinema about kids, Amole Gupte manages to fuse in both of these superbly.

A few years back Vishal Bharadwaj made “Makdee” a wonderful film that he followed up with the “Blue Umbrella” the baton was picked up by Gupte who came up with “Taare Zameen Par” and now “Stanley ka Dabba”. The ability to see the world through a child’s uncluttered innocent and hopeful vision is what lingers from this story. Personally am mighty glad that a credible effort is being made to make such a film and keep this cinema alive. 


abak said...

Looking forward to the movie after your review !

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Jaroor bagh... :-)

dotcomgirl said...

We saw Stanley ka dabba yesterday and loved it. Though it was a bit sad at the end....it was the truth. My daughter, now 8, loved Stanley, his friends, Rosy miss and the movie. Each and every character has been portrayed so aptly...certainly a must watch!

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

:-) It is a nice film

veena said...

Dunno when I get to see. Narration please...like ur katta tales :)

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Cant do that for a movie na Veena...would take away all your fun of watching it...tumhari lambi zindagani me kabhi na kabhi to yeh ghatana jaroor ghategi...us ghadi me majaa kirkira na karu is nek iraadey se hi...main tale nahi likhunga :-)

The maker above alone knows what lingo this reply actually was in ....

Akshay Iyer said...

I honestly watched the movie purely because my friend was singing a song in this movie! I liked Stanley Ka Dabba and yes, one can relate to the story especially if one has had those typical experiences with teachers. Each character has been defined in their respective roles so well.

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Hey Akshay, welcome here.

Yes the movie is an effort that is straight from the heart it touches you instantly :-)I enjoyed it myself.