'Taare Zameen Par’ opens with the main Ishaan Piano theme as Ishaan’s face is introduced to us as a reflection in the muddy water. The melody continues as Ishaan is getting totally disconnected from the world around and indulges in his fishing. The melody stops abruptly and aptly as Ishaan is dragged out of his world by the school bus conductor. Sitting on the engine of the bus, Ishaan again goes into his world, and looks into those little fishes he collected in his water bottle and soon his colorful vision and imagination fills the entire screen along with the opening credits of the movie and though the music in the background starts with ‘London bridge is falling down’ melody, it soon shifts to Ishaan’s theme and finally after wandering on some funny action cues to suit the visual action, it ends with ‘Bam Bam bole’ melody and all of them orchestrated like that of a nursery rhyme. Quite surprisingly, this cute piece isn’t included in the soundtrack CD included in the recently released DVD pack of Taare Zameen Par.
The main piano theme that we hear in these initial sequences is not the complete ‘Ishaan Theme’ which was released with the songs. This is just part 1 of it. This piece is used for most of the silent moments of Ishaan in the movie, when he is at his will in his own world, when he is at peace, when he is alone and silent. Though the theme is beautiful and apt for Ishaan’s emotions, it ends up being overused throughout the movie especially in the later half. The background score is little overtly done than necessary and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy may not be the ones to be blamed, as the ‘Making of Taare Zameen Par’ reveals how precise Aamir Khan’s requirements were. In a video clip we see Aamir literally taking the position of a music conductor instructing Ehsaan, as he is instinctively playing a melody on his guitar matching with the mood of a particular scene.
Coming back to Ishaan’s theme, the part 2 of Ishaan’s theme sounds Ishaan’s anger, frustration, depressing, loneliness and sadness. In the scene where Ishaan fights with Ranjit, we get to hear the complete Ishaan theme; it starts of with a discordant guitar melody for Ishaan’s fight with Ranjit continued by running up the stairs to the terrace and once Ishaan reaches the terrace and starts crying alone, the discordance fade and a piano starts to play a sad melody and as his anger, sadness and all negative feelings fade on seeing a Kite coming his way, the pleasant Ishaan piano theme starts to play in the background, implying the shift in his mood so effectively. Part 1 of Ishaan’s theme isn’t used with such a clear purpose or thought elsewhere in the movie. Especially in the latter half after Nikumbh’s entry, Ishaan theme appears whenever Ishaan appears, no matter what mood he is in. It becomes more of a person’s theme than the theme implying his state of mind.
But the Part 2 of Ishaan’s theme is used aptly at right moments. And one such is the Ishaan’s nightmare scene and is much more effective in the scene in which Ishaan cries and runs non stop in the basket ball ground, displaying his anger to his parents for what they did to him and for which the high tempo discordant guitar melody fits to T.
Though there are more distinct theme pieces, I now understand why Aamir released only the Ishaan’s theme along with the songs, because Ishaan’s theme forms almost 70% of the background score of the movie. Other identifiable themes are Mother’s theme, Nikumbh’s theme and Harmonica theme and also for many of the scenes Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have conveniently and safely used the melodies of the songs. The melody of the title track is used umpteen times in the latter half of the movie. The soothing flute prelude of ‘Kholo Kholo’ becomes an inspiring score for Ishaan making boat plane with bits and pieces of materials he had in his collection.
Mother’s theme is nothing but the guitar piece from the first interlude of ‘Maa’ song, played in a much lower tempo. But it aptly personifies the warmth of every mother and it is put to brilliant usage throughout the movie. Ishaan’s father slaps him for fighting with Ranjit, but Ishaan’s mother kindly and patiently kneels down, looks at the scratches in Ishaan’s face and asks him to take a bath without uttering a single harsh word and this guitar melody starts playing in the background and that is when it appears for the first time. After Ishaan is put in the boarding school, Ishaan’s parents come to meet him on a weekend and as they see that Ishaan is so depressed, they decide to take him outside to the hotel room and it is there that after quite a long time, Ishaan gets a chance to be with his mother and he in her embrace, the boy who was shown to be having deep dark circles around his eyes is finally having a deep and peaceful sleep and it is such a moving scene which gets a beautiful melodramatic uplift by this Mother’s theme. We feel as relieved and peaceful as Ishaan by hearing this piece in this scene.
Nikumbh’s theme (as titled in the soundtrack CD), is a new piano melody with a sad empathetic sound in it. It isn’t actually a theme for Nikumbh’s character; it appears only after he starts contemplating about Ishaan’s condition and starts worrying about him.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy chooses Harmonica to underscore the lighter moments in the film like the one where Ishaan throws his test papers to the dog. The harmonica piece that appears as camera zooms in on yawning lazy little kids who are still trying to break out of their early morning nap, is my favorite. Only place where I thought harmonica is too cool and light for the situation is that of the Nikumbh-Ishaan montage in which Nikumbh cures Ishaan’s dyslexia in a quick simplistic way and the lighter sound added in the background further enhanced the easiness and casualness of the whole sequence.
‘Taare Zameen Par’ may not have the perfectly done background score but the soundtrack CD which includes 22 background score pieces from the movie is so soothing and pleasant to listen to, even if one don’t recollect the exact scene or situation from the movie in which the piece is being used.