In school, my friend and I used to share food during our breaks. We loved to have a bite of each other's dabbas. In fact, if one of us didn't bring his Tiffin, the other would give some food only on udhar, which was adjusted the next day.
This is what STANLEY KA DABBA does to you. Filling you with nostalgia, it takes you right back to the good old school days. Even Sagar Ballary's KACCHA LIMBOO, which released a while back, did that to a great extent. There's a constant smile on your face almost through the entire length of the film.
STANLEY KA DABBA is an endearing tale about Stanley (Partho), who's in his fourth grade. He comes to school before anyone else does and completes his homework. He's exceptionally bright in class and is the centre of attraction amongst his friends. He likes English ma'am, Rosy (Divya Dutta) and even recites a poetry on her birthday. Rosy is also very fond of Partho and his essays.
However, not teachers think the same of Partho. Gluttonous Hindi teacher Mr. Varma (Amole Gupte), whom students call khadoos, is mad at him for not bringing his dabba. One day he irately tells him, 'Kal se dabba nahin, to school nahin.' This creates havoc in Partho's life and he becomes a truant. Whether he is able to find a solution to this problem is what forms the rest of the story.
Amole Gupte sets the mood right at the beginning with an impressive opening credits sequence. You start loving Partho and his quaintness. The school life wonderfully portrayed is totally relatable. The first half is extremely brisk and gets over in a flash. The sequence in which Partho and his friends trick khadoos is hilariously entertaining.
The exhilarating first half is followed by an equally entertaining but moving second half. Amole incorporates some astute twists in the second half, which are very touching. You can't help but fall in love with the relentless perseverance and spirit of Partho.
STANLEY KA DABBA is one of those rare films that tugs your heartstrings. Like TAARE ZAMEEN PAR (of which Amole was the writer), there are many things you take back from the honest film. It's made with a lot of heart and touches your soul. It makes you realise how special and lucky you are. There is also a subtle message of facing difficulties with a smile and keeping your chin up.
Deepa Bhatia's (Amole's wife) editing is superb. Amol Gole's cinematography is excellent. Hitesh Sonik's music is lively and gels very well with the film. In fact, it elevates it to a great extent.
Partho (Amole Gupte's son) is simply adorable and carries the entire film on his shoulders. Amole Gupte plays his menacing act to perfection. Divya Dutta is extremely good as the loving teacher. Divya Jagdale, who plays the science teacher, is superb. Raj Zutshi, who plays the history teacher doesn't get much scope. All the friends of Stanley do a commendable job.
STANLEY KA DABBA is absolutely delicious. Make sure you devour it.