Ishaan Awasthi is an eight-year old whose world is filled with wonders that no one else seems to appreciate; colors, fish, dogs and kites are just not important in the world of adults, who are much more interested in things like homework, marks and neatness. And, Ishaan just cannot seem to get anything right in class. When he gets into far more trouble than his parents can handle, he is packed off to a boarding school to "be disciplined" Things are no different at his new school, and Ishaan has to contend with the added trauma of separation from his family. One day a new art teacher bursts onto the scene, Ram Shankar Nikumbh, who infects the students with joy and optimism. He breaks all the rules of "how things are done" by asking them to think, dream and imagine, and all the children respond with enthusiasm, all except Ishaan. Nikumbh soon realizes that Ishaan is very unhappy, and he sets out to discover why. With time, patience and care, he ultimately helps Ishaan find himself.
The story is about an 8-year-old boy named Ishaan who cannot cope with the academic demands in school. “The letters are dancing!” he once complained when he was asked to read. Infuriated, the teacher threw him out of the class and the students who passed by the hall mocked him for being punished. Moreover, Ishaan reversed letters when he wrote and demonstrated a poor understanding of mathematical concepts. He was at the risk of repeating a grade level again because of his poor scholastic performance.
Ishaan began to evade homework and cut classes because of his discouragement over his failings. When his teachers advised his parents to avail of special education services, his family decided to send him to a boarding school instead in the hopes that the highly structured environment will straighten out his “behavioral problems”.
Ishaan continued struggling with the same problems in his new school. When he was finally on the brink of suicide, his art teacher Ram Nikumbh discovered that he had dyslexia and consequently turned his life around.
I think this movie is a breakthrough for India. It is definitely worth watching! However, those of us who are in the helping professions must not deceive ourselves into thinking that we are better than what we really are, or that all of our clients are merely victims of external circumstances. Being in the trenches of occupational therapy practice has taught me over and over again that “all our good works are filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
The film emphasized that children should not be forced into the rat race. Adults should not demand that their kids top all their subjects so that they can live out the unfulfilled ambitions of their parents. Each child is special in the sense that they have their own calling, which may or may not be in line with what their families want. Moreover, as an OT, I highly regard this movie for advocating the “disability perspective”: that there are a lot of special children who have given up trying to meet age-appropriate demands because of disabilities. They then resort to inappropriate behaviors because of exasperation and not because they are out to defy authority.
One day of the competition, Ishaan woke up and left early that the competition has already started when he arrived at the amphitheater. The contestant had so much fun. At the end of the competition there mas a tie between Ishaan and Mr. Nikumbh. However, the final decision made the Ishaan painting of a boy at the pond the winner.
Ishaan's painting became the front cover of the school's yearbook while Mr. Nikumbh's painting of Ishaan was the back cover of the yearbook. Ishaan's family was so very proud of him espicially when his teacher told him how smart and talented he was, all thank to Mr. Nikumbh who paid attention to a boy who once didn't know how to read and write.