I have some fond childhood memories of watching some coveted movies in regional language every Sunday on Doordarshan TV. Ever since, I have been quite open to watching movies in vernacular languages given they have acquired the acclaimed and appreciated status. One such movie I recently came across was the Bengali movie Haami. This movie was highly recommended by my Bengali friends in Kolkata and the title song ‘Bhuttu Bhaijaan’ also caught my kids’ fancy. Only that it took me some while to arrange for the movie to be viewed on television.
Why I call the movie Haami as a curious case of paranoid parenting is, because from the word go, the movie is a reflection of how indulged a generation of parents we are. Here’s a peep into how this movie is a study in itself of parenting behavior and how it impacts our kids.
Because We Can Afford, We Splurge
The movie opens with a birthday party of a happy go lucky boy. The father is a business owner and makes sure that his son’s birthday party is the talk of the town (read community). A celebrity singing sensation, latest fashion and exotic food mark the party. As if that wasn’t enough, the kid is bestowed upon with the parent’s blessings in the form of a mobile phone.
Here we meet a parent couple who have recently moved to the City of Joy and approach the school of their daughter’s admission. In light of the recent incidents of reported child molestation in school premises, this couple is extremely concerned for their girld child’s safety and security. I wouldn’t say there’s anything wrong with that, because I definitely know of some parents in real life, who continuously put the school administration in a spot over such issues. This sad state of affairs has been projected very candidly in the movie.
The School’s Dilemma
Children safety is as much as school authorities’ prerogative, as it is the parents. A few unfortunate incidents have brought the school premises and the staff across cadres under the scanner. CCTV, backgroung verifications, clear space demarcations for sub-staff and sub-sub-staff are some measures that schools have immediately taken to ensure avoiding any mishaps. We as parents find solace in this knowledge, but rarely do we stop to think how all this has impacted the school staff. That eerie feeling of being watched every moment, right from the time they step into the school has taken a psychological toll on some for sure. The movie very beautifully brings to light this aspect.
The Age of Whatsapp Mothers
As if the concept of Helicopter mothers wasn’t enough, Whatsapp school mom groups have further added to the fire. Age appropriate acts of mischief, childlike mistakes and even innocent acts of display of friendly affection (in this case a ‘Haami’, begali word for a kiss on the cheek) become subject to parental scrutiny because some child went back and very rightly shared the update with his mother. But the mother instead to taking it in childlike stride, went out to blow the trumpet and create misunderstandings with serious repercussions.
And Paranoid Mentality At its Best…ummm… worst?
The movie depicts how our concern for our kids’ well being has shadowed the joys of innocent childhood. This particular set of parents instead of laughing off an act of affection displayed by their kid and another one, go on to accuse a six year old of molesting their 6 year old. May be the times are that dark in reality, but to keep things in perspective, wouldn’t it be better to use ones’ judgment and look at the situation for what it is before jumping to conclusions?
This Bengali movie Haami is a case study of the prevalent issues that various stake holders face in the course of bringing up another generation. What they actually forget to register is that each word said by them, and every action of theirs on display for kids to watch is impacting the kids’ heart and mind. That instead of pointing fingers outwards, every stake holder needs to look inwards and see how each and every word and actions of theirs is affecting the innocent souls.
With so much wound into one movie Haami still comes out as that fresh and warm spring air that touches ones heart. One of the concluding conversations between two teachers is what childhood should be about. When the teacher says, “I choose to focus on the kid’s innocence when he says he wants to marry me. Decades later when he will come back for a reunion with his girlfriend or wife, I will pull his ears and ask him ‘hey! I was your first girlfriend’” That’s what childhood should be about. Atleast that’s what my childhood was about. But I fear that times have changed to such extent that I cannot say the same about my kids’ childhood. Can I?
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