One of the first odes to a celluloid teacher can be found up to 1954 with the film Jagruti. Satyen Bose’s film with Abhi Bhattacharya as a teacher, who inspires his students with the story of Mahatma Gandhi, is still very popular thanks to the melodious De Di Hume Azaadi.
In the 1960s, the teacher made himself comfortable with the student and understood the student’s crazy world. Kishore Kumar’s Guru from Padosan or Joy Mukherji’s reverse teacher for IS Johar in Shagird ushered in the new era.
Two polar sides of the Hindi film teacher
The 1980s saw two polar sides to the Hindi film teacher. Raaj Kumar’s professor in Bulandi was nothing less than a commanding officer and Lee Marvin’s performance in the Dirty Dozen could well eschew his acting skills! On the other end of the spectrum, Raj Kiran had Hip Hip Hurray. The film remains one of the best teacher-student films in Indian cinema history. Raj Kiran inspires his school soccer team to victory while also battling the school captain who covets the same woman, Deepti Naval, who also happens to be a teacher.
A new type of teacher emerged in the 1990s. These were changing times, so would it have been possible for Master to change over time? This New Age teacher was a clear departure from before, this teacher was someone who did not let injustice stop them, be it Ajit as a martial arts expert from Jigar or the Shah Rukh Khan from Mohabattein. Kamal Hassan also played a slightly different teacher in the 90s. His teacher in Namaavar had been an idiot in college so he knew exactly how to deal with the villains in his class!
It’s not as if the polar shifters in Dangerous Minds and Wild Things.t only changed in the perception of an on-screen teacher in Indian cinema. Even Hollywood’s most popular teacher movie, To Sir With Love, looks a bit out of date today. They too have come a long way from simple stories to complicated teaching stories
Benchmark Teacher Student Hindi Films
The 2000s brought in some more lake changes. This time the teacher was just as much in focus as the students. Mithun Chakarborthy in Guru did not mind waging war with his former protégé when he realized that the disciple was going the wrong way. SRK’s appearance as Kabir Khan in Chak De India, the no-nonsense hockey coach, was a clear departure from his Raj-Aryan image. This time he wouldn’t stop 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 devoted a whole life to the inspiration of his student.
In the recent past, it was Aamir Khan’s teacher in Taare Zameen Par who has become the new benchmark for teachers on screen and why not. On the heels of Black, in whom Debraj Sahay is as politically correct as any character could have been, this is a great change. While the teacher in Black doesn’t mind resorting to sheer physical violence if the young child is unable to understand it, Ram Shankar Nikumbh of Aamir Khan in Taare Zameen Par is nothing short of a godsend that lives of the dyslexic Ishaan. This teacher not only goes the extra mile, but also doesn’t mind fighting the parents to convince them.
Right or wrong, too right or too wrong, luckily the role of film teacher is making a welcome comeback among screen teachers of yore.