Reaching for the skies in Apna Aasmaan

Saw Apna Aasmaan yesterday. I had picked this one based solely on its soundtrack and quality of artwork that accompanied it. Not knowing what to expect, I was positively impacted. The first five minutes of the film also reminded me of Dil Chahta Hai (2001), believe it or not (see below for how).

The film belongs to the genre of independent, un-hyped, but meaningful cinema. Much like Swaami earlier in the year. Also like Bheja Fry and Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006), although some might question their meaningfulness. These are typically the films you do not hear much about before their release. And not much after, too. Certainly not by the main-stream media, who I stopped believing ever since they dismissed Lagaan back in 2001 as being 'one that was not feasible for Indian audiences', on the day after its release. Enough of the so-called 'experts' :)

These are films that start out with a good script, and then work their way to the cast. (There is a tendency in Bollywood to go in the opposite direction, with commercial masala film-makers going first with the cast and then working their way to a script that would sell the cast as much as their film.) Before I get ahead of myself, back to the film that is the subject of this post.

Apna Aasmaan, in a nutshell, is about the parents of an autistic teenager who want to have their child be normal. They over-succeed and realize that there were several positive traits in their child to begin with that they had ignored. So the story continues (I do not intend to give the story away, so watch it if you are interested to know what transpires).

Irrfan Khan, Shobana, Dhruv Panjuani, Rajat Kapoor, and Anupam Kher do as well a job as is demanded by the script. The film is very well made in context, and the emphasis is on the acting and delivery of dialog, with few room for interruptions (read: songs). The very few songs fit in very well with the film, with Dil Ka Tarana sung by Sunidhi Chauhan and Shaan being the pick of the lot.

One thing I would like to highlight is that I was reminded of Dil Chahta Hai (2001) during the first five minutes of the film. With opening credits splashing across the screen, we see a child's paintings (excellently shot, I might add) and hear a beautiful flute rendition. This instantly reminded me of Akshaye Khanna's role in DCH (remember, he was a painter and the song Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut starred him). Next, we see in the first scene of the film, an ambulance and a patient being rushed to the emergency room. You might recall that was the very first scene in Dil Chahta Hai too! All right, so I know I am a nut for Aamir Khan movies and tend to draw outrageous comparisons with his films and those of others.

Back to Apna Aasmaan. I enjoyed the film because it was real. Yes, there is no such thing as a Brain Booster, but we can take it for what it is -- fiction. On the whole, one of the finer productions for a small film that will hopefully remind us of all that we have to be grateful for, in addition to reminding us of all that is to appreciate about the goodness in people regardless of their disabilities. I would rate this five stars on intent.

Movie Rating: *** (GOOD) Watch it if you are a fan of real cinema and have enjoyed Swaami earlier in the year.

My Classification: PG-13 (clean, but some scenes depicting disability and aggression might not be suitable for minors)

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