Released in 2007, Taare Zameen Par tells the story of Ishaan Awasthi - an 8-year-old student who would rather paint and daydream than study. His lack of interest in his school textbooks forces his worried parents to send him to boarding school. There he meets art teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (played by Aamir Khan himself) who discovers that Ishaan’s struggling to perform well in class because he’s dyslexic. He takes a special interest in the child and slowly helps him cope with curriculum while honing his interest in painting.
One of the most memorable moments of the film is the heartrending song ‘Ma’, sung by Shankar Mahadevan and penned by Prasoon Joshi, which captures the pain of a helpless Ishaan as he learns to live away from his mother in boarding school.
The initial idea for the film first came to writer Amol Gupte and his wife Deepa Bhatia (who also edited the film) on reading the biography of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa, who didn’t perform well at academics, spoke about finding new confidence after being showered with praise by an art teacher who believed in him. They started work on a short story entitled High Jump which laid the foundation for the film.
In search for a child to play the lead role, Gupte and Bhatia visited various schools, kids’ classes and gyms and eventually discovered Darsheel Safary at one of choreographer Shiamak Davar’s dance classes. Aamir Khan stepped in as director at a later point in the film while Gupte is credited as creative director.
The film went on to win many awards, including the Filmfare Best Film Award and National Award for Best Film on Family Welfare.