The first audible for a teacher on celluloid can be found dating back to the 1954 film Awakening. The Satyen Bose film features Abhi Bhattacharya as the teacher, who inspires his students with the story of Mahatma Gandhi, who is still in the sweeter De Di Hum Azadi Ke Thank You.
In the 1960s the teacher cohabited with the student and understood the student’s crazy world. From Padosan to Kishore Kumar’s mentor or disciple, Joy Mukherjee’s reverse teacher ushered in a new era for IS Johar.
Two polar sides of Hindi film teacher
The 1980s saw two polar sides to the Hindi film teacher. Raj Kumar’s professor in Bulandi was no less than a commando chief and his performance put Lee Marvin’s performance from the Dirty Dozen to shame! On the other end of the spectrum was Raj Kiran in Hip Hip Hurray. The film is one of the best teacher-student films in the history of Indian cinema. Raj Kiran inspires his school’s football team to win and also fights with the school captain who is in love with the same woman, Deepti Naval, who also happens to be a teacher.
A new type of teacher emerged in the 1990s. This time was changing, so would it have been possible for the Guru to change with the times? This new age teacher was a clear departure from the past, this teacher was the one who didn’t allow injustice to stop his disciple, be it Ajit as Jigar’s martial arts expert, or Mohabbatein’s Shah Rukh Khan. In the 1990s, Kamal Haasan also played the role of a teacher in a different style. His teacher in Namavar was a goon during his college days, so he knew how to deal with the miscreants in his class!
It’s not that the polar shifts in Dangerous Minds and Wild Things have only resulted in the perception of an on-screen teacher in Indian cinema. Even Hollywood’s most loved teacher flick, To Sir With Love looks a little old today. They too have a long way to go from simple stories to very complex tales of education
benchmark teacher-student Hindi movies
Bought in some sea of 2000 turns once again. This time the teachers remained in the same focus as the students. Mithun Chakraborty in Guru did not mind to wage a war with his former disciple when he realized that the student was going down the wrong path. Shah Rukh’s no-sense hockey coach as Kabir Khan in Chak De India was a clear departure from his Raj Aryan image. This time he did not stop at inspiring or scolding. Amitabh Bachchan’s teachers in Black were a source of inspiration. He not only understood Michelle’s dark and hollow world in Black but devoted his entire life to inspiring his student.
It has been Aamir Khan’s teacher in Taare Zameen Par in recent times which has become the new benchmark for teachers on the silver screen and why not. On the heels of Black, in which Debraj Sahai could be as politically correct as a character, this is a great change. While the teacher in Black doesn’t mind resorting to physical violence when the young child is unable to understand, in Taare Zameen Par Aamir Khan’s Ram Shankar is no less than Nikumbha Ishwar, who saves the life of dyslexic Ishaan. This teacher not only goes the extra mile but also doesn’t mind fighting to convince the parents.
Right or wrong, very right or very wrong, thankfully the cinematic teacher persona is making a welcome return to the on-screen teachers of old times.