I love Bollywood and there was a time I could watch pretty much anything. I don't remember ever walking out of a film and I've gone for some pretty lousy ones. I sat through one of SRK's absolute pits of a film (I’m telling myself it’s age-related maturity which makes me admit this even while the heart feels a twinge of guilt at stabbing SRK in the back). Anyway, all I remember of the said film is that he exaggerated his worst mannerisms and wore a jacket without a shirt ugh!!! But then he IS SRK and I WAS young ....... and I am so digressing, but you do get the picture, right?
When the kids came along I discovered to my utter surprise that I'd turned into a Bollywood prude. I found I had this unexplained desire to keep them away from all things filmi for ever and ever. I never did have a fascination for toddlers mouthing film dialogues or aping the Dabangg dance.
I quailed at the thought of H and N watching crassly choreographed item numbers to even more crass lyrics, painfully long drawn out 'come-hither' looks and counter looks, the even more painful camera shots lingering on various parts of the female anatomy as much as the gore and violence. Sometimes they'd come to me with a string of lyrics they'd picked up from a friend and ask me what it meant and I'd explain the best I could. I got by pretty well but then those were early days.
The first time N gave me grief for a film, it was Karan Johar’s Student of the Year. She was all of 6 and I was sure it wasn’t for her while she was equally sure it just was, since ALL her friends had seen it. To my dismay the society kids took to enacting out portions of it and I found N staking claim to a certain role without ever having seen the characters! She knew each of them through her friends. Still, I consoled myself, it wasn’t the same as actually seeing the film. Even today the non-animated films the twins have seen can be counted on their fingers.
However, I have come to realise that trying to keep them away from Bollywood while living in India is silly not to say completely impossible. The trick is to filter them and that I hope I can continue to do for a long time yet. What I remain firm on, is NOT getting swayed by the ‘All my friends have seen it’ line. I have friends and cousins who have taken the children along right from the time when the kids were babies. And I have to admit the children do not seem any worse (or better!) for it. I put this down to just another parenting quirk the children have to bear with.
I’m learning to let go little by little. The twins have graduated from KungFu Panda to Chennai Express and we have begun to watch some really good Bollywood films together but more of that in another post. I still do get the occasional twinge when H and N pick up some bizarre action move or a weird piece of vocabulary from a film or when I watch N singing Manwa Lage with a look of immense earnestness and I wonder how much of that emotion she can actually comprehend. I AM over-thinking this I know. The sane part of me tells me kids hardly internalise songs and dialogues like adults; but what to do – that’s just how I feel.
And the prude in me cannot but celebrate when given a choice the kids recently picked Minions instead of a popular Bollywood flick. Maybe it was alright after all, alright to hold them back just that much. Parenting is about individual instinct, right? And then about hoping and praying fervently that it all turns out right.
What do you think? Is it okay to let the kids be? Do we end up pushing them towards something by trying to block it out?