Monday, May 16, 2011

#121: Stanley ka Dabba



Stanley, a IV standard student isn't bringing his tiffin during the lunch time at school. His ever-hungry Hindi teacher who also doesn't bring his lunch box ridicules Stanley because it means the other students would rather share their food with Stanley than with this gruff middle-aged teacher. It comes to a point wherein one of them has to go hungry during the lunch time. Who is going to blink first ? With a story that's as basic, Stanley Ka Dabba will manage to keep you glued to your seat for two hours.

Writer, producer and actor Amole Gupte finally gets to direct a movie that he can call his own after his more famous spat over creative differences with Aamir Khan during the making of Taare Zameen Par.. Gupte's languid filming here has a charm of it's own even though Amole tends to repeat the protagonist's dilemma in the movie more often than required. Partho Gupte (Amole and editor Deepa Bhatia's son) as Stanley acts with an air of an expert at work and at any moment has his eyes speaking louder than words. The supporting cast led by Amole Gupte and Divya Dutta ably shore up the movie as teachers with contrasting approaches even as a host of other child artistes bring all the required innocence of the days of school to the fore.

The most remarkable thing about Stanley Ka Dabba is that it emerged out of a series of workshop sessions conducted by Amole Gupte. It is believed that half the time the students didn't even know that they were being shot for a movie. The resultant simplicity gives the movie a very realistic feel and some of those scenes with tiffin boxes being opened are guaranteed to transport you back to your school days. It must've required enormous discipline on Gupte's part to ensure that none of the students missed a class during the filming of the movie over a year and for that he deserves all the credit. As Anurag Kashyap tweeted last week, 'this is all what indie filmmaking is all about.'

The movie leaves you little room to complain but it's one shortcoming is the crawling pace of it's screenplay. Add to it six songs in a two hour movie and you know your patience is being tried a bit. That said, Stanley Ka Dabba is a movie during which you will find yourself reminiscing about those little moments of laughter during class breaks in school and the dread of steely stone-faced teachers who would make you stand outside the class if you were caught speaking while she was writing on the blackboard. Its nostalgia apart, Stanley Ka Dabba is like a box of your favorite chocolates from childhood, the joy of which would multiply, if you managed to share it with your best friend. So go right ahead, dip into it's flavors and while you're at it, spare some time to savor the aftertaste.

Rating: 6.8/10