Remember Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam? I'm sure you do. The former President of India, with his charming personality and an inimitable kind demeanour, was and still is a source of inspiration to millions. I AM KALAM is a tale enthused by the maverick leader.
The film traces the life of Chottu (Harsh Mayar), a poor kid with a million dollar smile. He is very sharp and interested in studies, but his mother can't afford to send him to school. So, at an age when children play with toys, he starts working in a small road side food stall under Bhati (Gulshan Grover). Also working with him at the stall is the hardcore Amitabh Bachchan fan, Laptan (Pitobash Tripathy) who never leaves a chance to bully him. After listening to a speech by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Chottu changes his own name to Kalam and starts working towards his dream of becoming a bada aadmi one day.
He befriends a local price Ranvijay Singh (Hussan Saad), who hails from a royal family. The two kids become the best of friends and start helping each other. Ranvijay teaches Kalam English while Kalam teaches him Hindi. What follows is a heart warming story about friendship, perseverance and pursuing dreams.
Nila Madhab Panda's directorial debut is a sweet little gem. It's one of those rare films that is simple and yet very moving. It shows in an absolutely non-preachy way that dreams do come true. And it's karma and not kismat that helps in fulfilling one's dreams. The narrative includes many brilliant moments that you'll remember for a long time. It also tackles the menace of child labour in a very mature way.
The film starts off on a light-hearted note and it doesn't take much time for you to fall in love with the adorable and witty Kalam. Watch out for the hilarious chudail sequence. He takes obstacles in his stride to achieve his goals, which is very moving. Even the bond that he shares with Ranvijay is very endearing. On the flipside, it does get a little too sombre towards the end. And Bhati's love track with Lucie (Beatrice Ordeix) has little to do with central theme of the film.
Ahishek Ray, Madhuparna, Papon, Susmit Bose and Shivji Dholi's music blends with the film perfectly. Mohana Krishna's cinematography captures Rajasthan beautifully. Prashant Nair's editing is spotless.
Harsh Mayar's shines and how! The National Award winner (well-deserved) plays his part very naturally. He carries the film on his able shoulders wonderfully and with great maturity. Gulshan Grover is dependable as always. Pitobash Tripathy, who impressed in SHOR IN THE CITY, is simply wonderful. Child actor Husaan Saad acts really well. Beatrice Ordeix plays her part superbly.
I am supremely impressed by I AM KALAM. Watch this film made with lot of heart for its poignant story-telling and incredible performances.