I Am Kalam

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I Am Kalam
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nila Madhab Panda
Produced by Santanu Mishra
Jitendra mishra
Screenplay by Sanjay Chauhan
Story by Sanjay Chauhan
Starring Harsh Mayar
Gulshan Grover
Pitobash Tripathy
Beatrice Ordeix
Music by Abhishek Ray
Susmit Bose
Shivji Dholi
Cinematography Mohana Krishna
Edited by Prashant Nayak
Release dates
  • 12 May 2010 (2010-05-12) (Cannes)
  • 5 August 2011 (2011-08-05) (Indian)
Running time
87 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget 3 crore (equivalent to 3.7 crore or US$560,000 in 2015)
Box office 6 crore (equivalent to 7.4 crore or US$1.1 million in 2015)

I Am Kalam is a 2011 Hindi film produced by Smile Foundation and directed by Nila Madhab Panda. The plot revolves around Chhotu, a poor Rajasthani boy, who is inspired by the life of the former President of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam[1] and his strong desire to learn. The character of Chhotu has been performed by Harsh Mayar,[2] a Delhi slum boy. The film was screened in the market section at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival on 12 May 2010.[3] It has been showcased in various film festivals and has received many awards and honours.[4][5][6][7]


Chhotu is intelligent boy of about 12 years of age from Rajasthan. Born into poverty, he is pawned off by his mother to work at a roadside food stall under the somewhat kind owner, Bhati. The mother says repeatedly "Schools is not in our destiny". The movie is about how there is no such destiny and such supposed destinies can be changed by one's own hard work.

One day Chhotu watches President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on television and it inspires him. Chhotu changes his name to Kalam and decides he wants to become someone who wears a tie and who is respected by others.

Chhotu/Kalam is quick to learn how to prepare tea and other things needed for the food stall, and he impresses Bhati with his abilities and creative ideas like delivering tea riding a camel[named Laxmi], which the European and American tourists residing at the King Rudrapratap's Mansion cum Hotel love and cherish. Kalam(Chhotu) while working for Bhati befriend king's son Prince Ranvijay singh(Hussan Saad) who feels lonely as he cannot befriend a commoner. Soon Kalam and Prince become true friends sharing gifts, books and skills which they command individually. The other employee, a young man going by the name of Laptan (played by Pitobash Tripathy), envies and mistreats Kalam by enforcing daily chores on him, at one time destroying all of his books. Kalam also helps Prince by writing an essay in Hindi for which the Prince receives an award. But his happiness is short lived as palace guards search Kalam's room and find clothes and books, which the prince had given to him as a present secretly. Even though Kalam is accused of being a thief, he does not reveal the source of the items to protect the prince from his father's wrath. Disheartened Kalam hitches a ride to New Delhi where he tries to meet the president but he couldn't so he leaves a letter to the president citing How he has been inspired by him and the realisation that any common child can become a president, prime minister(a successful, respectable person) by hard work and not by destiny.

Meanwhile, the prince tells his father that he gave the clothes to Kalam and that Kalam wrote the speech which earned first prize. The nominal king realises his mistake and sends the prince to find Kalam in New Delhi. Kalam is found near the India Gate and is brought back home. The king tells him that he can study in the same school as the prince and employs Kalam's mother as well. Bhati offers to pay the school fees, but Kalam says he will pay for them himself. At the end Kalam's dream comes true he goes to school with prince. The film ends giving a message that "The children come to school not only for information....but also for transformation".

I am Kalam is a Smile Foundation production and is the first film ever in India to be produced by a development organisation. With this film Smile Foundation is trying to reach out to people around the world drawing their attention to support the movement of educating every child in India to secure a better future. It is a fact that in a world that is already exposed to extraordinary content, plain appeals do not stand a chance any more in grabbing attention. Keeping this in mind, Smile Foundation proactively took the initiative and the challenges therein to come up with a mainstream Bollywood film; and has tried to package a very important cause in a contemporary fable like manner in an attempt to reach out to the maximum number of people towards this cause.



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 and also to take his blessings.[8]


Critical reception[edit]

It is a critically acclaimed movie. The film was rated 4.40 on 5 by audiences at the Transilvania International Film Festival recently.[9] Critic Vianayak said "This film is an example of how a children's film can regale with solid storytelling, at the same time creating space for undercurrent comment." TOI wrote " 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".[10] DNA appreciate movie – "At a little over 90 minutes, I Am Kalam is a gripping watch that leaves you feeling uplifted and positive. Try not to miss it.".[11] Rediff.com stated that I Am Kalam is a winner.[12] Taran Adarsh inspired movie by saying "On the whole, I am kalam is an inspiring and motivating film that deserves to be encouraged. Recommended!".

Awards and nominations[edit]


  • Golden Elephant in Best Screenplay in 17th International children Film Festival, India
  • Int'l Film Festival of India(IFFI),Goa by Young Jury for Best Feature Film[13]
  • National Film Award for Best Child Artist 2011 – Harsh Mayar. He won it along with two other children[14]
  • Lucas Film Festival, Germany for Best Feature Film[15]
  • Barbican Children's Film Festival, London for Audience Favorite
  • Cinekid Int'l Film Festival, Amsterdam for Special Mention
  • Int'l Jury at Ale Kino Int'l Film Festival, Poland for Special Mention[13]
  • Don Quixote Prize of the International Ciné-Club Federation (ICCF) at the Lucas Film Festival[15]
  • Special Diploma at Minsk Int'l Film Festival, Listapadzik[13]
  • Aravindan Award for Best Debutante Director[16]
  • 57th Filmfare Awards for Best Story to Sanjay Chauhan[17]


  • Cinekid Film Festival, Amsterdam for Cinekid Lion Award
  • Cinekid Film Festival, Amsterdam for Cinekid Audience Award
  • Buster Film Festival, Denmark for Politiken Audience Award
  • Mumbai Int'l Film Festival (MAMI) for Indian Frame Showcase[13]
  • Cinekid Film Festival, Amsterdam, for Cinekid Lion Award


  1. ^ "Review: I am Kalam". Dearcinema.com. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "I Am Kalam: Movie Review". The Times of India. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Nila Madhab Panda's I Am Kalam to screen at Cannes Film Festival". Businessofcinema.com. 
  4. ^ "I Am Kalam". ibnlive. 23 April 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "I Am Kalam selected for London Film Festival". DNA India. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Kaplan, Ilyse (13 April 2011). "Bollywood hits Hollywood". Variety. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Abdul Kalam gets nostalgic on watching I Am Kalam, Times of India, 30 July 2011, retrieved 4 August 2011 
  9. ^ Kamath, Sudhish (6 August 2011). "I am Kalam – To Kalam, with love". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  10. ^ "I Am Kalam". Times of India. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Review: Try not to miss the beautiful I Am Kalam". DNA India. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "Review: I Am Kalam is a winner", Rediff, 5 August 2011, retrieved 20 February 2012 
  13. ^ a b c d "awards"
  14. ^ Kapoor, Nikita (24 June 2011). "Chillar Party reject Harsh Mayar wins National Award for I Am Kalam!". FilmiTadka. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "I Am Kalam wins two international awards". Bollywood Trade. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "Aravindan Puraskaram for Nila Madhab Panda", OneIndia, 23 February 2011, retrieved 20 February 2012 
  17. ^ "Filmfare Awards 2011 Winners". Times of India. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 

External links[edit]


This Film is shot in bikaner Rajasthan India .