I’m back from school. I wouldn’t say that school has failed, but it hasn’t passed with flying colours either. In fact, it hasn’t even earned distinction. If below 35 percent is failing, Paathshaala has managed to just pass with 40 percent marks. And of course, that’s way below expectations, especially from a movie that stars Shahid Kapoor and Nana Patekar. These two blokes are the saving grace of this failing school.
Saraswati Vidya Mandir (SVM) is the school in question. It’s an old-world school run by an old-school principal – Principal Sahay (Patekar). Rahul (Kapoor) is the new English teacher, one amongst a motley group of teachers. The school is managing to survive, managing to churn out good students every year, but that’s not enough for the management. What they want is m-o-n-e-y. And hence they force Principal Sahay to take up unethical means to earn more and more money from the school. Otherwise I’ll shut the school down, says the trustee. And we can’t have that, can we?
So what we can do – and do – is make the motley group of teachers (who keep calling themselves ‘staff’) revolt. Of course, the teachers need to be pushed to their extreme limits before they do revolt, right? To make them reach that point, the director throws in some exorbitant scenes that make you question the logic behind them. Surely, everyone is out to make money, but I don’t really think people behave as badly with kids as shown in Paathshaala.
Any which way, all is well at the end. Shahid Kapoor gets to wear cool clothes and flaunt his long hair; Nana Patekar gets to make an inspirational speech at the end. And the rest, well, they got a movie, didn’t they.
So, Paathshaala is not a Taare Zameen Par, nor is it a 3 Idiots, even though it talks about the same things. The education system is corrupt and needs reforming, but is a boring movie ever going to make the moolah-seekers turn over new leaves? Don’t think so.
Paathshaala is too forced and too clichéd. It has its moments, but they are too few and far in between. Go for it only if your babe is henpecking and wants you to pay her more attention than the IPL. Or rather, just spend the money on a nice dinner. Paathshaala has its heart in the right place, but it is a bit too boring.
By Saurin Parikh