Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bollywood and kids

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?

31 comments:

  1. Ohh.. OM i can so relate to this one! every bit of it..the watching pretty much anything to SRK's mannerisms..the guilt of it.. and then the kids!! I'm a prude too and cringe when Ammu tries to learn the songs so earnestly. For her its just the beats and probably that her friends know the lyrics completely..such sort of thing. So then I just let her be..
    I agree.. we sometimes just end up making it worse when we focus too much on it !!

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    1. Tough one isn't it? Trying to keep the kids away when Bollywood is so all pervasive?

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  2. Of course, parental check is important. I believe that there are only 2 kinds movies: Either you make a good or bad film. Interesting perspective.

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    1. Thanks Vishal - we just need more films for kids or even for young adults.

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  3. We are on the same page on this one too! I am all for kids watching age appropriate movies. But now that AG is in a boarding school, he has seen more movies than me on the telly. :P

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    1. You're lucky you don't have to deal with the decision on a day to day basis. I'm sure the would keep some kind of a check at school.

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    2. Oh yes, they have a good check on the TV at school in the form of time and content. The channels that are 'open' for them are age appropriate and the remote is usually in the hands of the matron! :D

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  4. Funnily enough I kept away from SRK movies even as a kid (scheduled a post on the same - to go live on Friday :P) I just thought he was a little too... a little too "him" (does that make sense?)
    Sad bit is, I can't keep my son away from it. He, for some reason, hates animated movies :( On the other hand, he is all for songs (especially those with dances and beats), and he is so stubborn that he doesn't let us change the channel!

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    1. It does make sense as in I see what one can dislike in him but I still remain a wholehearted SRK fan :-). As for television it's just a weekend addiction for the kids so I try not to mind.

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  5. No kids here, but I feel that kids today should be banned from watching the trash that is called a Bollywood film. Crass dialogues and lyrics that they learn faster than their rhymes, violence that puts all sorts of horrible ideas in their heads and those really cheap dance moves that they copy and show off...things really could not get any worse!

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    1. Not all Bollywood is bad. There are a handful of films suited for the kids. I just wish there were more of them.

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  6. I ditto Shilpa's comment, most of the stuff coming out of bollywood these days is trash and rather crude. But I wonder if children can be insulated from all that- it's everywhere, even on TV so many popular shows are inspired by the same Bollywood stuff! Must be difficult for parents.

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    1. That's what the problem is - you cannot insulate them You can just hope they reject it themselves at some stage.

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  7. We don't watch TV at home on weekdays, so there is no scope for movie watching as such. On weekends, we end up watching movies with Gy which she can watch and I am all for censoring inappropriate content- peer pressure be damned. I actually stay away from watching a movie myself if I have to ask Gy to not watch it, so she doesn't feel left out. Sometimes, we need to put our foot down, Tulika. Being a parent over being a friend kind of thing.

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    1. How similar are we Shailaja. We don;t have TV on weekdays too and I end up not watching films I don't want the kids to watch. Yet there are outside influences that are getting increasingly hard to handle. The good thing is, though that as they grow I can get more liberal and hope they can choose well for themselves.

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  8. I feel like you're doing good! They're just at the age when they can start watching; earlier, they wouldn't be able to understand and they would get taken in by all the stereotyping and objectifying!
    I like watching with the kids; even if it's crass stuff and talking about it, so they know that even if it's the 'good guy', what he's doing is just not right! I do draw the line of excessive violence though!

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    1. That's a thought Roshni. Maybe a few years from now I can do it too. As of now they're at the stage when everything seems 'cool'. Oh and I enjoy watching films with them too which is what brought on the post.

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  9. I can imagine!! P and I went to visit a family and while we were having a nice conversation the kid came in to ask her Mom if she can watch the TV. The mom allowed her so that she doesn't come again pleading and interrupting our conversation. In a minute, much to our horror, we could hear loud music coming from their TV room.. "Baby Doll main sone di...." ! Though hilarious, I could see the embarrassment in the Mom's face.
    I guess, there is a need for parental check, especially in today's world where it's all daaru and bikini-clad women in the name of party songs. Kids mimic the catchy lyrics as well. Can't blame them. You are just being a good mother, Tulika :)

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    1. At least the mom was embarrassed - many parents find it funny or even cute that their toddlers can lisp out the latest lyrics.

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  10. Can't comment on parenting, but, regarding Bollywood songs... maybe this will help alleviate some of those fears...
    I didn't much understand the lyrics until I was way into college. Sure I had all the latest songs memorized for antakshari with friends... even the ones with the double meaning lyrics... but all they meant to me was good "dance beats". No mind getting corrupted, you know! :P

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    1. That IS something. I get worried when the kids ask me what the lyrics mean and all I can do is squirm.

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  11. I am struggling with a different kind of an issue. We had been to India for the annual summer vacation a few months back, and D who had just turned 3 then, soaked in a lot more than when we were there the last time. The thing he took an instant liking to was the Chota Bheem brand of entertainment. Then came the animated versions of Hanuman etc. What appeared harmless initially, now has me worried, as I find him more violent and aggressive. Sigh.

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    1. Let me just say it's a phase Shantala. Yet I do know how hard these phases are to ride through. You could tell him stories of Hanuman and then move onto other mythological stories steering him away from the violence. Just a thought.

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    2. I will try that. Since removing Hanuman from the picture doesn't work. Thank you. :)

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  12. I really can't comment on this as I hardly watch bollywood flicks these days and there;s no peer pressure to watch one. I think kids mostly want to watch it becasue all their friends did so... they kinds feel left out. But really don't know how a parent can handle that. Finding a balance can be really tough. Maybe let them watch really good ones first and few bad ones later and let them make a decision ... I know that's too much to ask.

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  13. Not a parent but I do know the simple logic that very parent is different and they have a way to bring up children. Bollywood is mostly crap (sorry for getting into your hit list) and even I don't watch much so I am all with you - Minions, Kung Fu Panda, Karate Kid over BB, Ready, what ever! :)

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    1. That it is. I am in the process of drawing out a list of Bollywood films that can be watched with kids - old and new.

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  14. I fear that too...while we might be protecting them at home, they get to pick up all that from peers! there was a time when my five year old had picked up a garish, gaudy, vulgar, what do you call it ...song from radio being played in his van, argghh, i had such a hard time getting him to forget that!

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    1. Oh yes I get what you're saying. We simply cannot insulate them. The long term solution is of course to develop their sensibilities so that they themselves reject all of that's vulgar.

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  15. As a parent, we try to protect them from unwanted things as much as possible. After a certain age, their social circle will influence them more than us family. However, it's important to teach them goods and bads.

    Again, I only have a toddler and I'm hoping I'll be able to accomplish what I wrote. Only time will tell.

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