I Am Kalam

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I Am Kalam
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNila Madhab Panda
Screenplay bySanjay Chauhan
Story bySanjay Chauhan
Produced bySantanu Mishra
Jitendra Mishra
StarringHarsh Mayar
Gulshan Grover
Hussan Saad
Dharmveer Jakhar
Pitobash Tripathy
Beatrice Ordeix
CinematographyMohana Krishna
Edited byPrashant Nayak
Music byAbhishek Ray
Susmit Bose
Shivji Dholi
Smile Foundation
Distributed byUltra Films
Release dates
  • 12 May 2010 (2010-05-12) (Cannes)
  • 5 August 2011 (2011-08-05) (Indian)
Running time
87 minutes
Budget30 million (equivalent to 53 million or US$660,000 in 2020)
Box office60 million (equivalent to 110 million or US$1.3 million in 2020)

I Am Kalam is a 2011 Indian Hindi-language drama film produced by the non-governmental charity Smile Foundation and directed by Nila Madhab Panda, cinematography by Mohana Krishna. The character of Chhotu has been performed by Harsh Mayar.[1] The film was screened in the market section at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival on 12 May 2010.[2] It has been showcased in various film festivals and has received many awards and honours.[3][4][5][6] The film was screened retrospective on 17 August 2016 at the Independence Day Film Festival jointly presented by the Indian Directorate of Film Festivals and Ministry of Defense, commemorating 70th Indian Independence Day.


  • Harsh Mayar as Chhotu/Kalam
  • Hussan Saad as Prince Ranvijay Singh
  • Gulshan Grover as Bhati, Dhaba owner
  • Dharmveer Jakhar as Social Activist
  • Beatrice Ordeix (French actress) as Lucy
  • Pitobash Tripathy as Laptan
  • Meena Mir as Chhotu's mother
  • Suresh Acharya as Lakha's assistant
  • Biswajeet Bal as Sukha Singh
  • Rajat Bhalla as Police Havaldar
  • Garima Bharadwaj as Rani Sa
  • Sanjay Chauhan as Raja Rudra Pratap Singh
  • S.D. Chouhan as Ranvijay's worker


This is the story of a boy Chotu, from a poor family who works as a child labourer at a highway-side cafe (aka dhaba). Irrespective of the problems in his life, he is a happy child with a simple dream to become someone like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

The plot has the protagonist Chotu being sent to a dhaba to work and earn for the family. Here, he befriends the royal heir, Rannvijay, of a neighbouring resort's owner, who’s his age. Every day, Chotu dreams of wearing a tie and uniform to go to school, just like Rannvijay, as he has an unusual thirst for education and knowledge. He then chances upon the Republic Day Parade and Dr. Kalam’s salutation march. Curious, he finds out about the President and instantly decides to become like him. From here, he begins to call himself Kalam.

As the story progresses, he meets a foreigner woman who tries to convince his mother to let him study as he is a bright kid, but since the family's circumstances aren’t in favour, he is denied an education. As a consequence, Chotu aka Kalam decides to run away to Delhi to meet the President and give him a letter. In this, he writes about how he wants to become like the President of India and thanks Dr. Kalam for making him realise his dreams. Meanwhile, every one from his family comes running after Chotu to find him in the new city. They finally track him down and a relieved Rannvijay and zealous Chotu hug each other with joy.

In the end, Rannvijay’s father offers Chotu’s mother work at his resort and agrees to pay for Chotu’s education and send him to the same school as Rannvijay’s. That is when Chotu says he wants to pay for his education on his own and the movie ends with both Chotu aka Kalam and Rannvijay boarding the school bus in their school uniforms.


The plot shows that equality in education is still a mere thought and that ideas are still being built around the education for underprivileged. The movie is, without a doubt, an eye-opener for the education sector in India.


The film was shot in Bikaner, Rajasthan of India.


I Am Kalam released in India screens on 5 August 2011. A special screening was held for Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at his Delhi residence on 29 July.[7] The film was acquired and distributed by Ultra Media & Entertainment.[8]


Critical response[edit]

Rajeev Masand of News18 praised the acting performances of all actors specially Harsh Mayar who played the character of Kalam. Masand also complimented the script which he felt was very well written because it integrated a very important message about education in its screenplay without being melodramatic. Masand gave the film a rating of 3.5 out of 5.[9] Mayank Shekhar of Hindustan Times found the film to be "sweet and engaging" and gave it a rating of 3 out of 5 appreciating its realistic nature.[10] Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express gave the film a rating of 3.5 out of 5 while praising its good intentions and the performances of all actors.[11] Namrata Joshi of Outlook praised the positive nature of the film but found the pacing to be slow. Namrata gave the film a rating of 2 out of 5 saying that "It’s a straight, simple story with no great highs and lows".[12] Amy L. Hayden of Time Out found the film "heartwarming and inspirational" but felt that American kids might not be able to relate to it.[13] The film was rated 4.60 on 5 by audiences at the Transilvania International Film Festival.[14] The Times of India gave it 4.5 stars out of 5, commented " It's inspirational, intelligent, topical and entertaining too. More importantly, it brims over with heart and soul, leaving no one untouched with its simple message of providing an equal opportunity".[15] DNA also gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, saying "At a little over 90 minutes, I Am Kalam is a gripping watch that leaves you feeling uplifted and positive".[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]


  • Mumbai Int'l Film Festival (MAMI) for Indian Frame Showcase[17]


  1. ^ "I Am Kalam: Movie Review". The Times of India. 4 August 2011. Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Nila Madhab Panda's I Am Kalam to screen at Cannes Film Festival". Businessofcinema.com. 6 May 2010.
  3. ^ "I Am Kalam". CNN-IBN. 23 April 2011. Archived from the original on 28 April 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Kalam continues to inspire, now on reel – Oriya director's take on former President's struggle for education wins global award". The Telegraph. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  5. ^ "I Am Kalam selected for London Film Festival". DNA India. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  6. ^ Kaplan, Ilyse (13 April 2011). "Bollywood hits Hollywood". Variety. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Abdul Kalam gets nostalgic on watching I Am Kalam", The Times of India, 30 July 2011, archived from the original on 11 September 2011, retrieved 4 August 2011
  8. ^ "Ultra acquires 80 children films' titles from CSFI". The Economic Times.
  9. ^ "A better life". Rajeev Masand.
  10. ^ "Mayank Shekhar's review: I Am Kalam". Hindustan Times. 5 August 2011. Archived from the original on 8 July 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  11. ^ "I am Kalam – Movie Review by Shubhra Gupta". The Indian Express.
  12. ^ "I Am Kalam – Movie Review by Namrata Joshi". Outlook.
  13. ^ "I Am Kalam – Film review". Time Out.
  14. ^ Kamath, Sudhish (6 August 2011). "I am Kalam – To Kalam, with love". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  15. ^ "I Am Kalam". The Times of India. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  16. ^ "Review: Try not to miss the beautiful I Am Kalam". DNA India. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  17. ^ a b c d "awards"[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Kapoor, Nikita (24 June 2011). "Chillar Party reject Harsh Mayar wins National Award for I Am Kalam!". FilmiTadka. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  19. ^ a b "I Am Kalam wins two international awards". Bollywood Trade. 14 September 2010. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  20. ^ "Aravindan Puraskaram for Nila Madhab Panda", OneIndia, 23 February 2011, archived from the original on 9 July 2012, retrieved 20 February 2012
  21. ^ "Filmfare Awards 2011 Winners". The Times of India. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  22. ^ Jha, Subhash K. (21 September 2011). "I Am Kalam wins 3 awards at The Silent River Film Festival". Businessofcinema(.)com. Retrieved 18 May 2021.

External links[edit]