Stanley ka Dabba is about a boy named Stanley who actually doesn?t have a dabba. So during the school break, he dips into the tiffin boxes of his many friends. But this irks the Hindi teacher Verma, played by director Amol Gupte, who forbids Stanley from coming to school without food.
Verma does this because he himself is a sweaty glutton who devours everything in sight. But Stanley and his friends successfully outwit their teacher.
Through this slim story, Gupte creates a poignant and piercing portrait of childhood and school days: the bond between friends, the bond children have with teachers, how swiftly and cruelly a child?s imagination can be crushed and how casually brutal adults can be.
Gupte is wonderful as the constantly eating, almost repellent Verma but the true magic here is the children. Their innocence and bewilderment about the adult world is heart-breaking. Partho, Gupte?s enormously talented son, doesn?t hit an artificial note through the film.
Let me warn you that Stanley Ka Dabba is slow. In places, the story seems stretched. The climax is predictable and not entirely convincing. But I recommend that you make time for the film. It has an inherent sweetness and honesty that will stay with you long after the film is over.