Like Stars on Earth (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 12, 2010 by  

The film is truly heartwarming, inspiring and I admit it made me shed a couple of tears.  Overall, “Like stars on Earth” is a fantastic release and definitely is highly recommended! A+.

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Like Stars on Earth

DURATION: 165 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Widescreen 2:35:1, Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions, English and Hindi Language Tracks, Subtitles: English and Hindi Subtitles

RATED: PG (For Thematic Material, Brief Violence and Language)

COMPANY: PVR Pictures/Aamir Khan Productions/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Released on January 12, 2010

Directed by Aamir Kha

Written by Arnole Gupte

Executive Producer: B. Shrinivas Rao

Producer: Aamir Khan

Co-Producer: Ajay Bijili, Sanjeev K. Bijili

Associate Producer: Kiran Rao

Line Producer: Sunitha Ram, Kiran Rao

Music by Shankar Mahadevan, Loy Mendonsa, Ehsaan Noorani

Cinematography by M. Sethuraaman

Edited by Deepa Bhatia

Production Design by Shruti Gute

Costume Design by Priyanjali Lahiri


Darsheel Safary as Ishaan Awasthi

Aamir Khan  as Ram Shankar Nikumbh

Tanay Chheda as Rajan Damodaran

Sachet Engineer as Yohan Awasthi

Tisca Chopra   as  Maya Awasthi

Vipin Sharma as Nandkishore Awasthi

In this touching and inspiring film, eight-year-old Mumbai native Ishaan Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) lives in a world where letters dance exuberantly with the brilliant colors, lively animals and joyfully soaring kites of his fantastical imagination. Struggling to read and write and unable to deliver the good grades and disciplined behavior expected by his parents and teachers, Ishaan is shipped off to a boarding school to straighten out. Almost 200 miles from home and suffering from homesickness, Ishaan alone is unmoved when a new art teacher (Aamir Khan) energizes the classroom by asking students to think, dream and imagine, instead of merely following the rules. Determined to draw the introverted child out, the teacher sets about helping Ishaan find the wondrous power of creativity that lies within him.

In 2007, director Aamir Khan (“Earth”, “Ghulam”, “Ishq”, “Rangeela” and a long list of other popular films) and writer/creative director Amole Gupte began work on “Taare Zameen Par” (Like Stars on Earth).  After its screening in theaters, the film received was critically acclaimed, amassed several awards but most importantly raised awareness of dyslexia in India but also around the world.

Now this remarkable film is available on DVD in the US from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment with a special 3-disc set which includes a bonus DVD with special features and the original soundtrack for the film.  Plus two postcards featuring the two award winning artwork from the film.

“Like Stars on Earth” revolves around an 8-year-old boy named Ishaan Awashthi (played by Darsheel Safary), a boy who is repeating his third-grade.  A child who is imaginative and also creative but once he sees words or mathematical problems, they are backwards.  But because of this, it affects his young life and teachers including his family look at him as disobedient and always causing problems.

Unfortunate for Ishaan, things continue to get worse and worse and it comes to the point that his parents, especially his father has had enough of his disobedience and sends him off to boarding school.

Young Ishaan doesn’t understand why his parents did this and now a young boy without a family continues in boarding school and yet again, the teachers and students don’t understand what his problem is.  That is until a new art teacher named Ram Shankar Nikumbh arrives and having worked with children with disabilities, he is drawn to Ishaan because he is depressed and often scolded and feels the need to help him.

Seeing Ishaan as a little boy who’s spirit has been crushed by the adults and people around him, Ram discovers something special about the boy and now, more than anything, wants to help him before its too late.


“Like Stars on Earth” is a beautiful film presented in Widescreen (2:35:1 – enhanced for 16×9 televisions).  Capturing various areas of India but also inclusion of breathtaking scenes.  One thing that helped is Khan’s commitment to perfection, from the scenery and the shots that he wanted, together with cinematographer M. Sethuraaman, they managed to capture many pieces of scenes that show the emotional side of Ishaan but also capturing the many children at the school and the various surroundings.  Vibrant colors matches its artistic presentation.  Picture quality is very well done as you can expect from a Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment release.

As for audio, the film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, English and Hind Language tracks.  I watched the film with both audio and first, the English dub is terrific.  Although not explained, I’m guessing that the talent re-recorded the dialogue in English and these are not dubbed English tracks that sound Western.  Fantastic English dubbing and one of the best dub jobs I’ve seen on a live action film that remained true to the original film.  Ff course, the Hindi track is well-done and dialogue is clear and understandable on both audio tracks.  Also, the music is very nice and clear as well.  Audio is mostly front and center channel driven but I preferred to watch the film with stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English and Hindi.

I really hope that Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment considers releasing this film on Blu-ray because it sports beautiful visuals and audio.  It’s one of those films that you definitely want to see in HD.


“Like Stars on Earth” comes with the following special features. Included are:


DVD disc 1 contains the film but you have the option to watch the film with an isolated music score.


  • Panel Discussion on Children – (43:05) Director Aamir Khan hosts a panel on dyslexia featuring Masarrat Khan (a clinical psychologist and member of the Maharashtra Dyslexia Association),  Dr. Vrajesh Udani (pediatric neurologist), Dr. Harish Shetty (psychiatrist) and Medha Lotlekar (educationist and teacher).  A featurette with Aamir Khan raising awareness of dyslexia in India.
  • Deleted scenes – (20:15) A total of seven deleted scenes: Loo bully, Ishaan watches TV, Ishaan cries, high jump, family at restaurant, Nikumbh’s house, Ranjeet bullies Ishaan.  Featuring an introduction by director/actor Aamir Khan for each deleted scene and explaining why the scene was cut.
  • Making of – (1:02:51) An intriguing featurette on the making of “Like Stars on Earth”.  How the film came to be, working with the young Darsheel Safary and how he was cast, filming of certain scenes and filming at the boarding school, creation of the paintings, the music and more.
  • Promo – (8:38) Featuring a total of six song promos and six dialogue promos for the film.
  • Trailers – (4:11) Featuring the teaser trailer and the original theatrical trailer.
  • Stills Menu – Featuring six photo galleries which people can cycle through using their remote control.

DISC 3: Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth) – The Original Soundtrack


  1. Ishaan’s Theme (A)
  2. Thrown to the Dogs
  3. Bully Fight/Ishaan’s Theme (B)/Ishaan’s Theme (A)
  4. Gola Painting
  5. Mission Impossible
  6. Absent Note Discovered
  7. Nightmare
  8. Ishaan Sinks
  9. Children’s Theme
  10. Melancholy Sunset
  11. Nikumbh’s Theme
  12. Nikumbh Meets Parents
  13. Everybody Wants a Topper
  14. Mother Watches Home Video
  15. Nikumbh Talks to Ishaan
  16. Ishaan Makes Boat Plane
  17. Nikumbh Ishaan Montage
  18. Solomen’s Island
  19. Ishaan Gets Read for Art Mela
  20. Where is Ishaan?
  21. Ishaan Wins
  22. Last Day of School

Fantastic!  And definitely an easy, deserving pick for one of the best DVD releases in the US for a foreign film for 2010.

Before watching this film, I was intrigued that Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment picked up an Indian film for release but I’m glad they did.  “Like Stars on Earth” is a wonderful film that is just heartwarming and captivating that I really enjoyed the message of how children with dyslexia can grow up to become talented individuals.  People such as Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci and even Walt Disney himself were among people who grew up with dyslexia during a time when people didn’t know what it was and I would assume, like Ishaan’s character, had challenges in early childhood that probably were heartbreaking.

The fact that the film has changed things and risen awareness in India is wonderful but most importantly, for US viewers, I think it also drives home the fact that any child who has some sort of disability, it’s not the end.  With help, these children can grow up to be talented individuals.

It’s a shame that the film was not selected for consideration for an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Film” and part of the reason is that the film is quite long at 165 minutes and that it has a lot of musical content.  And I applaud director Aamir Khan for not cutting up the film just to achieve an award.  There is a reason why this film is long and it’s a story arc to show Ishaan being misunderstood, to Ishaan being separated from his family and attending boarding school and the final arc in which his teacher notices his special talent and tries to help him overcome dyslexia.  As for the music, what kind of Indian film would this be without the music. Music is important to this film and even those little bits of pieces of scenes included in the music is important and yes, although the music is featured in longer duration and not short pieces, it would be very difficult to cut out.

As for the DVD release, I applaud Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment for releasing the film with the DVD and bonus DVD but also the inclusion of the musical soundtrack.  In the past, when it came to foreign films, this was seen as a positive for those releasing Japanese movie, anime or video game soundtracks and it only fostered the growth in the US and internationally.  I want to see more of this from Walt Disney and the film features beautiful music from Shankar Mahadevan, Loy Mendonsa, Ehsaan Noorani and more.

For parents who are interested in purchasing the film.  It is worth it and I watched it along with my six-year-old.  There is scenes of violence but it is integral to the film to show how the character of Ishaan is seen different not just by his teachers and family but also other kids.  Because he has been told that he’s wrong all the time and has this disability, his spirit has been crushed and although he doesn’t react and doesn’t speak that much, the kids pick on him and there is a scene where he does get hurt, he leaves school but its important to watch and explain things to your kids about those scenes.  This happens earlier on in the film but trust me, there is a great reward once you reach the end of the film.

The film is truly heartwarming, inspiring and I admit it made me shed a couple of tears.  Overall, “Like stars on Earth” is a fantastic release and definitely is highly recommended! A+

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