Actor-producer Aamir Khan makes a bland helming debut with "Taare zameen par," whose handle, "Every Child Is Special" sums up its touchy-feely-ness.

Actor-producer Aamir Khan (“Lagaan,” “Rang de basanti”) makes a bland helming debut with “Taare zameen par,” whose handle, “Every Child Is Special” sums up its touchy-feely-ness. Pic about a special-needs kid’s plight is so resolutely caring — and devoid of real drama and interesting characters — that it should have “approved by the Dyslexia Assn.” stamped on the posters. Two-and-a-half-hour picture doesn’t even recognize the tyke’s obvious problem until after the intermission, and then fails to capitalize on it dramatically. Movie opened slow worldwide Dec. 21, buried by masala crowdpleaser “Welcome.”

Eight-year-old Mumbai misfit Ishaan (buck-toothed Darsheel Safary) is mocked by his classmates and scolded by his parents (Vipin Sharma, Tisca Chopra) for underachieving. Sent to an expensive boarding school in hilly Panchgani, he finally gets help from an unconventional art teacher, Ram (Khan), who realizes why Ishaan keeps saying, “The letters are dancing.” Cue inclusive, soggy finale. Sole miracle is how Khan and “creative director” and scripter Amole Gupte manage to keep so few balls in the air for so long. Rich tech credits, clever animated inserts and Khan’s own pixie-like perf help. Hindi part of title means “Stars on Earth.”

Taare zameen par: Every Child is Special

India

Production

A UTV release of a PVR Pictures presentation of an Aamir Khan Prods. production. Produced by Khan. Executive producer, B. Shrinivas Rao. Co-producers, Ajay Bijli, Sanjeev K. Bijli. Directed by Aamir Khan. Creative director, Amole Gupte. Screenplay, Gupte.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Setu; editors, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; music, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; lyrics, Prasoon Joshi; production designer, Shruti Gupte; costume designer, Priyanjali Lahiri. Reviewed at Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue 1, London, Dec. 22, 2007. Running time: 155 MIN. (I: 69 MIN.: II: 86 MIN.)

With

Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan, Tanay Chheda, Sachet Engineer, Tisca Chopra, Vipin Sharma, Lalitha Lajmi.
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