I watched the movie Taare Zameen Par today. And man, was I surprised! Surprised to find that Bollywood actually bothered to make a film that’s both relevant and realistic. And managed to restrain itself from introducing any contrived love story into the film. It reminded me of an earlier post where I reviewed Chak De India. Each of these movies signals that Indian cinema has indeed matured. If Chak De dealt with the place of women in a man’s world, Taare talked about parental pressure, and a child’s response to it.
To be honest, I cried, through practically every frame of the movie. Not that I bawled my eyes out, but that I felt genuinely touched by the pain the kid went through. I laughed at his antics and cried at his loneliness. And for the first time, I felt as if someone had actually understood what I felt like when I was a kid. I was never dyslexic, nor did I have a serious learning problem. But, I lived through loneliness and desperation at times. I was never among the top ten, or even twenty in class. And it hurt. Not because I got the 2’s and 3’s that 9-year-old Ishaan Awasthi did, but because despite a decent 10 on 20, my teachers would still insist that I was incapable of learning. In a way, the film brought back my childhood to me. It only got worse as time went on. Classmates, toppers all of them, would advise me to study as hard as I could. Some would insist that going to X Sir or Y Ma’am would change everything. And being the stubborn ass I was, and still am, simply refused to seek help. Not until I got to college did I feel genuinely happy about myself. If I am a confident student/teacher/worker/blogger today, it’s because college taught me to love myself, irrespective of what others think.
On an intellectual level, the film also made me think. Think about why engineering or medicine are considered the only things “worth” studying. How can you judge a branch of study by the amount of money a person makes in life? I studied political science. I am now teaching French. I have not got a job that is related to my studies. Does that mean that political science or security studies is worthless? Why can’t I study, just for the heck of it? I loved what I did in France for two years. I don’t regret it. Then why should people look at me with pity, when I say I am teaching French at the Alliance? Oh! So, you mean you have nothing better to do? They ask. Why is it so wrong for me to consider teaching a good enough option? Am I worthless because I am not a “professional” as others would see it?
All around me, I see parents stuffing their children with knowledge. I see 7-year-old kids studying feverishly for the “pre-annual model exam”. I see mothers fretting over the loss of a single mark in maths, or the relinquishing of the first rank to a neighbour. Is this all you want from your kids? Is it more important to get marks (and money later in life) then to think for yourself? What are we doing to our kids? Why can’t we just let them be kids? Why do we refuse to let them enjoy their already short-lived childhood? In the unlikely event that any parents are reading this, I have one request. Be proud of your kids for what they are. Don’t expect them to be what you could not be. If you wanted to be a doctor and failed to make the grade, don’t expect to make up by living that life through your child. You may be the parent, but the child is his own individual. Remember, everything in life is not what it appears to be. And sometimes, the ability to think out of the box can be a person’s greatest asset. We must take care not to damage that ability irreparably.