One of the first odes to a teacher on celluloid can be found dating way to 1954 with the film Jagruti. Satyen Bose’s film featuring Abhi Bhattacharya as the teacher who inspires his students with the story of Mahatma Gandhi still stands tall thanks to the melodious De Di Hume Azaadi.
The 1960’s saw the teacher cozying up with the pupil and understanding the student’s crazy world. Kishore Kumar’s guru from Padosan or Joy Mukherji’s reverse teacher for IS Johar in Shagird heralded in the new times.
Two polar sides of Hindi film teacher
The 1980’s saw two polar sides to the Hindi film teacher. Raaj Kumar’s professor in Bulandi was nothing short of a commando chief and his histrionics could very well shy Lee Marvin’s performance from the Dirty Dozen! The other end of the spectrum had Raj Kiran in Hip Hip Hurray. The film remains one of the best teacher-student films in the history of Indian cinema. Raj Kiran inspires his schools football team to win and at the same time fights the school captain who covets the same woman, Deepti Naval, who happens to be a teacher as well.
The 1990’s saw a new type of teacher emerge. These were changing times so would it have been possible for the master to transform with the times? This new age teacher was a clear departure from yesteryears, this teacher was someone who’d not allow injustice to stop his pupil so be it Ajit as the martial arts expert from Jigar, or the Shah Rukh Khan from Mohabattein. In the 1990’s Kamal Hassan too played a teacher with a difference. His teacher in Namaavar had been a goon in his college days so he knew exactly how to deal with the miscreants in his class!
It’s not as if the polar shifers in Dangerous Minds and Wild Things.t in the perception of an on-screen teacher changed only in Indian cinema. Even Hollywood best loved teacher flick, To Sir With Love looks a wee-bit dated today. They too have a long way from simple tales to much complicated stories of teach
Benchmark teacher-student Hindi films
The 2000’s bought in some sea changes once again. This time around the teacher became as much in focus as the students. Mithun Chakarborthy in Guru didn’t mind waging a war with his erstwhile protégé when he realized that the student was going the wrong way. SRK’s take as Kabir Khan in Chak De India the no non-sense hockey coach was a clear departure from his Raj Aryan image. This time around he wouldn’t stop at either-inspiring or scolding. Amitabh Bachchan’s teacher in Black was a source of inspiration. He not only understood the dark and hollow world of Michelle in Black but dedicated an entire life to inspire his student.
In the recent past it has been Aamir Khan’s teacher in Taare Zameen Par that has become the new benchmark for teachers on silver screen and why not. Close on the heels of Black, in which Debraj Sahay is as politically correct as a character could have been, this is a great shift. While the teacher in Black doesn’t mind resorting to sheer physical violence when the little child is unable to comprehend, Aamir Khan’s Ram Shankar Nikumbh in Taare Zameen Par is nothing short than godsend, who saves the dyslexic Ishaan’s life. This teacher not only goes the extra mile but also doesn’t mind fighting the parents to convince them.
Right or wrong, too correct or too incorrect, thankfully the persona of the cinematic teacher is making a welcome comeback to the on-screen teachers of yore.