Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On dyslexia and Bollywood

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.

4 comments:

Sudhanthira said...

Amrutha...that was beautiful!! I can resonate so well to that post. I suppose every other indian kid goes through this medicine-engineering-and-nothing-else phase of their lives. I remember how bad i had felt when medicine didnt happen to me. And now, when i think back its almost like a bad dream that just clawed upon me for a while and let me go!
Amrutha, i don't know how much difference whatever i say is going to make, but never ever let others make u feel anything other than what you are. Quite honestly, they ask and imply such questions because that's the way they can survive! And yes, you should do what you love. And i think teaching french is simply amazing!!! :):)

Amrutha said...

Thanks...your encouragement does make a difference. I am not immune to criticism and sometimes lose hope...but, the belief that I am doing the right thing keeps me going...I can tell you one thing, my kids will never have to live through what I did...after all, they are their own individuals and deserve a better deal...

bicycle said...

Hi
I've been reading your blog posts for quite some time....Your views and perception are simply amazing.

Check out a tamil movie by name KATRATHU TAMIL. Its one of the powerful movies I've ever seen across various languages.

I lookforward to read your opinion about this powerful movie soon..

kaushik said...

what irked me was that the kid had to come first in something finally :(

It is sad that childhood is lost in search for the centum or the first rank. Not everyone can come first. I was lucky that my parents understood that, and congratulated the 10s and 15s that I got.