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Thank You, Teachers! 4 Of My Personal Favourites Among Films That Celebrate A Teacher

Posted: September 4, 2020

The bond that one develops with their teacher is based on the edifices of admiration, trust, and respect. A tribute on Teacher’s Day.

From the treasury of quotes about teachers comes one that strikes a chord with me.

American author Jeannette Walls describes the profession of teaching beautifully when she says: “Teaching is a calling too. And I’ve always thought that teachers in their way are holy angels leading their flocks out of the darkness.”

Teachers play a monumental role in our lives. We all have those legendary teachers who are instrumental in helping us to discover our potential and motivating us to choose our career paths. At times, it’s not just the academic lessons they impart but the core principles they embody which help mould us into good human beings.

I consider myself immensely fortunate to have come across some extremely remarkable teachers who have touched my life in an incredible way. It has been very long since I have been taught by them in the classroom, but the values they have instilled in me will forever remain etched in my mind.

On Teachers’ Day this year, I would like to reflect on those films which I have picked from my list of favorites. They focus on the student-teacher relationship, and each of then has a message to convey. Spanning four decades, these films which I’m calling the ‘Fabulous Four’ are built on the themes of love, acceptance, crossing hurdles, and the complexity of human emotions.

To Sir, With Love (1967)

To Sir, With Love addresses social and racial issues that plague a school in the East End of London.

Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier), an immigrant from British Guiana, steps in to teach at North Quay Secondary School while waiting to hear about an engineering job he had applied for. What he encounters is a batch of white, indisciplined, rowdy students who do not readily accept him and make his task extremely challenging.

The road ahead is bumpy for Mark as he strives to succeed in the teaching job that he has signed up for. A question looms large as to whether his students will appreciate his merit and shower him with the love and respect he deserves.

36 Chowringhee Lane (1981)

Aparna Sen debuted as a director with 36 Chowinghee Lane, and the film fetched her the National Film Award for Best Direction.

Residing in 36 Chowringhee Lane in Calcutta, Violet Stoneham (Jennifer Kendall) is an Anglo-Indian school teacher who leads a quiet, lonely life. After many years, she meets her student Nandita (Debashree Roy) and her author-boyfriend Samaresh (Dhritiman Chatterjee). She is flooded with joy and invites them to her flat. She even allows them to live with her for a while to provide Samaresh the ambience he needs to work on the novel he is writing.

The trio spends some lovely times together. Miss Stoneham loves Nandita and Samaresh unconditionally. Then comes the time to see whether they pass the test of humanity by reciprocating her affection with the same authenticity and sincerity she has shown them.

Tuesdays with Morrie (1999)

Tuesdays with Morrie was made for American television and originally aired on ABC.

Sports columnist Mitch Albom (Hank Azaria) discovers his favorite teacher Professor Morrie Schwartz (Jack Lemmon) after 16 years when he makes a television appearance in ABC’s Nightline. They reconnect, and the bond they once had is rekindled when Mitch starts visiting Schwartz every Tuesday.

Morrie is suffering from a terminal disease with death knocking at his door. Yet he lives life to the fullest. In their second innings together, Morrie imparts lessons to Mitch, and they are much more valuable than his lectures from the Sociology curriculum.

Front of the Class (2008)

A true story, Front of the Class is based on a book of the same name by American teacher and author Brad Cohen and chronicles the journey of his life.

It is an inspirational story that drives home the point that with proper will and determination, one can definitely break barriers.

Brad Cohen (Jimmy Wolk) suffers from Tourrette Sydrome, and there is no cure. Although he had steered his way through school, it is not an easy ride for him ahead. With his aspirations to be a teacher, he does manage to get a job after facing rejection in 24 interviews. His ticks obviously draw the attention of his students and disrupt the class.

This movie has been remade in Bollywood as Hichki, featuring a female teacher played by Rani Mukherjee.

The challenge for Brad is to overcome the obstacles posed by his neuro-developmental disorder and come out victorious as a successful teacher!

Celebrating Our Teachers!

The bond that one develops with his or her teacher is based on the edifices of admiration, trust, and respect. It will be hard to find that outlier who does not remember any teacher with an influence on his or her life. Our parents bring us to this world and nurture us, and our friends have our backs in good and bad times. In this network of relationships stand those teachers who leave a lasting impact on our minds and help us move in rhythm with the music of life.

As we celebrate Teachers’ Day, we need to take a few moments to honor that unique bond. Let us say a prayer of thanks and gratitude to all those revered individuals who have given us so much and have left that indelible mark on our lives.

Image source: a still from the film Hichki

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Born in India, Rashmi Bora Das moved to the United States in the early nineties.

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