“Taare Zaameen Par” Like Starts on Earth

This film by the Indian producer Amir Khan describes the life of 8-year old Ishaan Nandkishore Awasthi, a good-natured boy who likes to paint, to build, to travel, to observe and to dream. He is very attached to nature and the animal world.

This colourful, sensitive and beautiful film describes the moments Ishaan is attached to his self, to his rich inner world. Ishaan has learning difficulties and experiences great trouble reading and writing. His parents, his school teachers and his friends do not understand his difficulties and laugh and mock him, calling him lazy. His amazing paintings interest no-one. In their eyes the paintings are a waste of time in a world where only academic achievements are considered important.

As a result, Ishaan grows up with the feeling of being miserable. He realizes that something is “not right” with him, even though he doesn’t know exactly what. Ishaan seems to know that that’s his lot in life and that the world is closed to him. He tries to throw a ball, and somehow cannot co-ordinate the distance –he is ridiculed and even receives blows from his neighbour. Everyone succeeds, but only Ishaan finds things difficult; and the film describes then extent of Ishaan’s feelings of frustration, guilt, and stupidity.

Ishaan’s father sends him to a boarding school, where he hopes that Ishaan will be “trained”, but of course they do not succeed. Ishaan falls even further behind, becoming so introverted that he stops painting and ceases to smile, walking around as a sleepwalker  with a frightening look in his eyes. He loses hope and almost commits suicide.

To Ishaan’s great fortune his art teacher, who also experienced learning difficulties as a child, recognizes a pattern, analyses the mistakes and explains to Ishaan about Dyslexia. More importantly, he teaches Ishaan that many great inventors such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Leonardo Da Vinci had learning difficulties – and that their ability to observe things from a new and original angle contributed a lot to the world. In his teacher’s words, “These children are the diamonds”. These children are indeed pure souls – even if they are not artists or wonderful creators –we have so much to learn from them!

  • How much are we misconceiving these children?

  • Are we succeeding in stepping into their shoes and understanding what they are experiencing?

  • To what extent are they desperate, lost and frightened?

  • Do we shout at them, instead of helping them to cope with their difficulties?

  • Do we often concentrate just on achievements?

We are liable to think that the film depicts what happens in India –whereas at home every special-education school has a counselor and a psychologist– a totally different reality. However, the truth is that we make and repeat these mistakes every day.

Some years ago I submitted a teenager for a Hebrew language matriculation exam. He had many learning difficulties; however as his parents refused to allow him to be diagnosed, he suffered many hardships whenever he failed in his studies. Do we sometimes shout at someone, when we could help and explain what to do? It seems we do this all the time! The film allows us an opportunity to step into a dyslexic child’s shoes and lets us experience his difficulties together with him.

At the Heyanut Center, operated by the Achlah organization, one of our aims is to listen to both the child and the family, so as to identify difficulties from each family member’s viewpoint. Sometimes all what we have to do is to shed light on the child’s uniqueness. Often parents are so concerned that they fail to enjoy their child’s beauty, intelligence and pure heart.

If you have not watched the movie yet, you can watch free movie here! The length of the film is two hours and forty minutes –but worth every minute! For those of you who are sensitive; and those who do not claim to be, prepare tissues!

Special-needs families wishing to contact us are invited to leave a phone message at 02 650 5276 (available 24 hours) or to send an eMail. We will be happy to provide a sympathetic ear and we will try to provide solutions.

Enjoy the film! Yoav Levy Social Worker at Achlah

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