“Stanley Ka Dabba”- School’s back!

Social films with kids as the central theme presented with a sense of honesty are often a rarity in India. It is in these times that director/actor and actor Amol Gupte who wrote “Taare Zameen Par” brings us this delightful film. The film is a not our typical bollywood film by any means. Rather it is a take on a serious social evil in India, with a fresh treatment. 

Gupte revisits his favorite set up of a school, but this time with a very different and a serious theme. Put across a new cast and Gupte’s son Partho playing the lead effortlessly, supported by Divya Dutta, Gupte himself and Raj Zutshi. The film is actually a welcome relief from the sort of insane cinema audiences are exposed to lately. The film has the perfect blend of ingredients to transport you your yester years of fun frolic. There are plenty of instances which are bound to take you back on a ride back to your school days. The loud singing before the teachers came. The fight for the desk-space , the whispers  behind the teachers all make up for the simple and slim storyline.

 The story is about Stanley who’s the coolest kid of class 4. Popular in the class, Stanley’s a master storyteller and the hero of his class. He is always welcome by his friends to share their tiffin. As Stanley himself doesn’t bring one.  We are hinted in the initial scenes about the sadness in his life, but are not overdosed with it. He’s the apple of the eye of Rosie Miss, a role deftly played by Divya Dutta to perfection. Certain scenes hint about the conformity of teachers over creativity, Partho excels in the role of Stanley. Watch how he surprises everybody with his summer science project. It is gem of scenes like these which make SKD believable and an amazing watch.

Trouble begins when ‘Verma sir’ aka Khadoos played immaculately by the astute Gupte, a glutton who lusts for morsels from literally everybody comes to know about the fact that Stanley doesn’t bring food to school. Verma sir dogs the kids hungrily to all possible hideouts, where the kids share their food with Stanley. Varma bars Stanley from the coming to school without a Dabba. What follows is a story of Stanley’s redemption and a journey into his bitter-sweet life. The climax is quiet abrupt and hurried, predictable at most instances. But the biggest highlight of the film is the leisurely pace and the setting which creates an amazing world with whom most Indian kids would identify.

Kids are truly a major inspiration for Gupte, who proves once again that a simple story with a honest and big heart can win over all. SKD is a winner in that sense, peppered with sensitivity and served with dollops of some heart- warming tracks by Shanker-Ehsaan-Loy, this one is a tasty treat not to missed.             

Although the story might not be as water tight as “TZP”, but it still manages to hold its own on most occasions.

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