It would be interesting to know how many multiplex patrons know what the word means though they may be familiar with it, thanks to Rang De Basanti. However, having dared to call the film Paathshaala, the film tackles a social issue which again doesn’t have many takers via cinema medium. It deals with the gross commercialisation of the education system.
The school in this case is Saraswati Vidya Mandir which boasts of an honest and dedicated principal in Nana Patekar. He is soon joined by a young English teacher, Shahid Kapoor, all enthusiasm and charm. All is not well with the school. The trustees’ demand that the school make profits and the principal is forced to comply, much to the dismay of the faculty members.
This is where the story takes a turn for the worse. The plot becomes unconvincing when everything from the fees to charges on other utilities are hiked overnight without any explanation. There is no logic behind this. Why is there not any romantic angle though the casting of Shahid and Ayesha Takia suggests there should have been? And, as is the trend these days, the media stepping in to salvage the situation and the school children’s protest become a national issue!!! It is all very amateurish.
If the script is weak, so is direction with no proper sequence to hold the film together. With so many kids and youthful Shahid, the film offered a great scope for songs and dances which has not been exploited to the fullest. Performances are just about okay.
Paathshaala is a poor product with similar prospects at the box office.