One of the themes prevalent in the movie Taare Zameen Par is authoritarian school violence. This is manifested in the teaching methods adopted by the teachers at both the schools – in one of the scenes when Ishaan is asked to interpret the poem called “Perspective”, he offers his own views which are disregarded and ridiculed by the teacher as well as the class however, the children cannot be blamed for it because they are to say whatever has been taught to them. Rajan Damodran (Ishan’s friend) later tells him, “Tiwari sir bohot strict hain … jesa woh batatay hain wese he yaad kar ke sunana parta hai” which is very true for the learning in schools that prevails to this day.
The environment of the school is so controlled that even in art class, the students are told that the lines have to be straight and the shape has to be perfect otherwise they will be hit 5 times on the right hand. This is so deeply ingrained in them that when Ram Sankar (Amir Khan) asks them to draw whatever they want to, they are rather shocked because they have never seen a teacher like that. This is made worse by the fact that sometimes there is added pressure from parents who blame the child for his or her poor grades instead of looking into the matter and seeing where the problem lies or it can be said that they don’t look for solutions but instead, continue to scold the child. In Ishaan’s case his father constantly compares him to his elder brother who is a topper.
“Kya banay ga baray ho kar woh? Kesay barabari kar paye ga iss duniya ke saath?”