Music School Movie Review: The musical is all heart but totally out of sync
Even Shriya, shining in most parts as a charming and chirpy musician loved by the kids and a consummate performer like Sharman Joshi, cannot salvage the film
If only good intentions make good films… At its heart, Music School is filled with goodness and honest pursuits, but unfortunately, it does not translate into the desired outcome on screen due to the lack of resolute execution.
Director: Papa Rao Biyyala
Cast: Shriya Saran, Sharman Joshi, Prakash Raj, Leela Samson, Suhasini Mulay
Remember Virus from 3 Idiots preaching to his college students how life is a race, and one has to run, run, and run...? Similarly, Music School begins with a caricaturish school principal lecturing primary school kids about how to become the next APJ Abdul Kalams and Aryabhattas. And then he randomly begins singing...The only way to reach the top is to pass all the tests and dances with the children and teachers. As expected, this silly stunt continues even with Shriya Saran's Maria D Cruze, music teacher, singing, I am from Goa, in her introductory class and parents lousily singing ‘My son will go to IIT to MIT’ outside the exam coaching centre. Such random breaks into songs and dances is par for the course in musicals, but should they all be this absurd and preposterous? There is an overdose of caricature that seems to set the tonality of the film.
As it is a musical film, there are seven original songs composed by the legendary Ilaiyaraaja. But all the songs, constructed with vacuously conversational lyrics and tuned like a nursery rhyme, offer extremely discordant and abominable experiences.
So, Maria joins a school in Hyderabad as a music teacher, where Manoj Kumar (played by a superb Sharman Joshi) works as a drama teacher and is the head of the art department. Soon after Maria realises that she has no scope to engage the children in music as they are pressured to focus on Science and Maths. With the help of Manoj, she sets up her own music school in their apartment. The story unfolds with Manoj and Maria trying to put up The Sound of Music theatre play and how they enable the kids to enjoy a vacation combined with theatre practice amidst the pressure to win the rat race to become doctors and engineers.
Music School attempts to create a discourse on the teenage crisis, parental pressure on children to only take up STEM courses, and why they need to understand the children's feelings and embrace their interest in arts. And to give credits where it is due, instead of generalising that all parents are the same, the film throws a spotlight on both kinds of parents--the ones who are strict and the ones who try to help their children in pursuing their dreams. However, the incoherency in the screenplay distracts from concentrating on the crux and diverts the screen time to irrelevant narratives like exploring Maria's encounter with her ex-boyfriend and more. Likewise, the idea of drawing a similarity between Maria and Manoj's relationship with the characters — Captain Von Trapp and Governess Maria—they reprise in The Sound of Music play, is interesting, but this establishment was rather sloppy and rushed.
Although the original soundtracks of Music School don't justify the genre and the film's theme, the decent adaptation of -- Do Re Mi, So Long Farewell, and Sixteen Going on Seventeen songs-- from The Sound of Music, is a mild relief. And the vibrant frames of Goa, its touristy forts, beaches, and antique Portuguese mansions, are one of the very few things that strive hard to anchor this underwhelming film. There are some unrealistic unfolding of events in the latter half, and it feels half-baked due to the lack of a solid conflict-resolution mechanism.
Even Shriya shining in most parts as a charming and chirpy musician loved by the kids and a consummate performer like Sharman Joshi fail to salvage the film. Apart from that, the film boasts some promising performers like Leela Samson and Prakash Raj, who are supremely underutilised.
Over the years, we have seen many films like Taare Zameen Par, Udaan and Pasanga 2 that showcased varied concerns of children, and their relationship with parents and society. These films etched a mark in our hearts by constructively telling engaging tales without diluting the essence of the themes. And Music School could have been a good addition to the list for talking about the importance of arts if only there were a harmonious synchronisation of well-intended ideas, screenplay and execution...if only.