Movie Review: Pathshala


The job of a movie reviewer is not an easy one. Whether he/she is interested in watching any movie or not, he/she has to go through the ritual on every Friday. There is always a deadline to contend with. And then, there is this relatively insignificant thing called money which further complicates matters. Even though nobody pays me to review movies and nobody threatens me with deadlines, sometimes I become delusional and start thinking of myself as a self proclaimed movie critic. And that makes me tie myself with a deadline and I drag myself to a movie theater, hoping that the review I write next day comes handy for the handful of people who choose to read my blog. And maybe, just maybe, someone, somewhere finds the review useful and says a thank you after reading it. That, dear friends, is the only reason I endured the torture of sitting through the entire duration of this movie. I desperately wanted to walk out of the theater, like I had done with Arindam Choudhuri’s Rok Sako To Rok Lo. But somehow, I controlled myself so that I can write this review. I may not be very good at it yet, but I am learning fast.

Attend at you own risk!

Movie: Pathshala (for the benefit of firang readers, this word loosely means a school that follows “Indian” traditions. Don’t bother learning more about it. I doubt whether the film makers themselves know more.)

Derector: Milind Ukey (Sir, I earnestly request you not to direct any more movies.Please sir! Pleeease!!)

Producer: Ahmad Khan (choreographer turned director turned producer turned…??)

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Ayesha Takia, Nana Patekar, Saurabh Shukla (and other assorted creatures who tried to look like teachers and students and aam jaunta …but…well…)

Rating: If I must, 2/10. Don’t bother, just don’t bother! Watch it only if you want to be insulted!

I seriously don’t know where to start talking about this movie? Should I talk about foul mouthed, inconsiderate, heartless, abusive character played by Saurabh Shukla, who calls himself “management” and is very careful in explaining that he is so dumb that he cannot distinguish between basketball and football and is so deaf that everything that makes sound is a “baaja” (musical instrument) to him. Should I talk about the “teachers”? Ok I will.  So you see one of the teachers comes straight out of mental asylum and always walks around with chalk, handful of chalk powder (yes trust me!) and a duster which is used for the sole purpose of smacking students heads. Another teacher, Mrs. Bose, is perpetually terrified of the principal and speaks with a funny accent (of course, after all she is a Bengali). And then there is this cute “nutritionist” (Ayesha Takia), who doubles up as canteen supervisor (a school which can’t afford regular staff has a nutritionist!!) and who wastes no time in sizing up the new teacher of her own age (Shahid Kapoor). And finally the hero (Shahid) with a weird and long name, which the principal never remembers, and who talks about revolutions during his interview with the principal, smiles for no reason and whose idea of teaching music is singing a song and making the kids dance around him like monkeys (no offense to the kids). He is the “hero every generation needs.” Pity, I didn’t have one in my school.

And the students? Well, they are just kids, except that one of them is dark skinned and has a huge wart on his face, coloured with ink (I seriously wanted to bang my head on the wall when I saw the poor boy, but couldn’t, since I was sitting in the middle of the theater), who plays with puppies because nobody talks to him. And what is our Hero’s way of making other kids realize that they should not discriminate between friends? By asking them to be friends with puppies, which nobody is able to do, except for out wart faced outcast (who else!)! Hail the Hero!

Or should I talk about the story (or whatever little of it present in the movie). The principal of Saraswati Vidya Mandir (SVM), played by Nana Patekar is in a major dilemma and decides to take the drastic step of commercializing his vidya ki Pathshala into management ki pathshala. Management wants more profit from school, not educated kids. And so fees are hiked up, everything in school is up for sale, and finally when nothing else works (to enhance school’s profit and reputation), media, marketing and PR guys (the three monkeys) step in and school kids are taken in as extras in serials and contestants in reality shows (What imagination! What creativity! What original thinking!) And thus our Pathshala becomes a studio and the school kids become child actors. And the audience is put through the torture of being shown the tussle between the “good” teachers and students and the villainous “management” and TV guys. And the point of all this? To show the audience that education is being “commercialized” and childhood and true education is at stake.

Finally the Hero knows the secret of the Principal’s behavior and there is a joint student-teacher dharna demanding the reason for Principal’s heartless behavior. The media gets a “breaking News” and radio Rjs (“apki jani Archana Jani”) hails it as the greatest event of the century!! The Principal, (dear Nana, are you so jobless that you had to do this movie?) finally comes out with the secret (which we already knew) and gives a nice, long updesha on how he was forced by the “management” (blast the evil management!) to become a villain. The big secret being revealed, the Management gets pressurized by the minister (no less!) and everything, suddenly, becomes all right. Just like that! And everyone goes back to classroom. Happy ending!

God oh God! I cringed in my seat, I covered my face in embarrassment (a la Manoj Kumar) in almost every scene, the audience laughed uncontrollably where they were supposed to cry, but the mental rape continued for more than two hours and help was nowhere in sight! Finally when I went out of the theater dazed and confused, I immediately wanted to sue the film makers for mental trauma. But good sense prevailed and I decided to write this review instead.

Mr. Ahmad Khan in an interview recently, said, “If Shahid Kapoor wasn’t in ‘Paathshala’, it could become a documentary. The film is so serious (seriously?) and it’s so beautiful (beautiful!! beautiful?!). But people wouldn’t have gone and watched just a children’s film even though it deals (and how!) with a serious issue (very serious!!). If I would have made a general children’s film, no one would have gone and seen it (even now nobody will see it, so don’t bother!). But if Shahid Kapoor and Nana Patekar say some good dialogues, and they are in the film, people will go and watch (thats how dumb you think we are??). So they get to see Shahid and also a sensible film (sensible?? ha ha joke of the century!). These stars make the range of a film go higher (i wish it goes so high that it vanishes in the ozone layer!), otherwise it becomes a small-time (for once you are right Mr. Khan, the film is really “small time”: less than three hours. Thank God for that!) film.”

I rest my case. I am bruised, battered, and severely traumatized. I need some rest.

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4 Comments to “Movie Review: Pathshala”

  1. Dear Shiv,

    Hope you still remember me.Its an earnest request to you do not waste any time by writing review of such a bogus film with no head and no tail. I will wait for your revie for upcoming movies like Housefull, Kites, Badmash Company, etc……

    All The Best

    Sugata Roy Chowdhury

    • Thanks for taking the trouble to comment! Yes I do remember you. Very well. 🙂

      There are two reasons why I wrote this review. First, exceptionally bad movies like this one give me a chance to be creative and funny in my review. I couldn’t have done this with a good movie. Second, it would be dishonest on my part if I write the reviews of only the good films and leave aside the bad ones. A review is essentially meant to help the reader in deciding whether or not to watch the movie. A couple of my friends decided not to watch it after reading my review. That’s exactly why I write these reviews.

      And trust me, I absolutely loved writing this review! It was a guilt free blasting session!

  2. Great review!! Keep ’em coming. Dude, have you not written a review on Prince? If not, please go watch the film and write the review, I’m eagerly waiting. “It’s the time to win” – you will know when you see the movie 😉

    • No point reviewing Prince now. I guess it’s a week too old. 🙂 I am looking forward to the new releases this friday. I know how “princely” prince is. That’s why I avoided it totally and went for “Pathshala.”

      Thanks for the comment!

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