Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Taare Zameen Par

Rarely we come across Bollywood movies that make us think. Taare Zameen Par is one such heart-warming expression of cinematic excellence that makes us reflect on our relationship with our young ones. It goes much beyond the touching and sentimental aspects that has moved celebrities and aam janta to tears. The movie centers on the inability and resultant resistance of a dyslexic boy who finds it difficult to compete with other children and cope with the 'unsympathetic' parents. In fact, we all can relate to this movie as parents of children whether dyslexic or not. It throws up several questions that need immediate attention from the perspective of good and sound parenting and respecting our little ones.

After watching the movie I casually asked my five year old niece what she liked in it. She was quick to point out that she got a ‘crying feeling’ when the boy is sent to a boarding school and she elaborated on the good and bad aspects of the film. What she enjoyed most was the painting that the children make. Amazing I thought! If a five year old could be so expressive in her opinion on the film what about older children. What about their viewpoints? How often do we care to seek their insights before we decide for them. We are very prompt in threatening and punishing them as if we are always right. Let’s remember the fact that today children are exposed to a world of information and knowledge courtesy media and Internet like we never imagined. They no longer depend on books, films and people as sources of their knowledge.

In our race against time and our determination to outdo others we end up smothering the most beautiful phase of our children. Sometime, unwittingly though, none of us have the slightest idea what our kids could be undergoing under the parental pressure and academic regimen. Even if we are aware of how harmful it could be of the overall growth of child we seem to ignore it and impose our demands that stifle their freedom to think, express and nourish their ideas. All this happens under the guise of the worldly wisdom ….we don’t encourage them to question, to seek. They are expected to accept the ‘answers’ that are provided in their books and

Stop for a moment and think! What happens to our memories of childhood when we become parents? Why do we suddenly become conscious of people around us and mould our child’s behaviour to fit into a pattern? We seem to forget the fact childhood is the most short-lived phase of our life and we impose restrictions on the child once he or she joins a school – the way in which the subjects are taught, the teaching methodology, evaluation scheme and so on.

Intolerance of difference
Mimic and reproduce
Creativity and innovation
Compete with oneself, excel, outdo oneself

Look at the sordid state of affairs presented by the reality shows on TV, especially that involve children who sing and dance. I was recently watching a show where a lead playback singer (female) was one of the judges. In her ‘appreciation’ of the performance of a seven year old she pointed out , ‘aaj aapke gaane mein bilkul bachpana nahin tha’ (today you sang very well, you never sounded like a child!) I frankly didn’t understand what was expected from that child. Did it mean that the child mimicked the original singer perfectly? What kind of a contest is it where we encourage a seven-year old to sing like a seventy year old. Don’t parents have a right to contest such judges? Where is the childhood when children are made to perform on the stage for materialistic reasons and commercial reasons that bring them ‘instant’ though shortlived success through dubious means like an SMS. It is sad that the so-called talent hunt in the form of these TV shows are doing more harm than good in identifying and promoting the real talent.

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