Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Affair to Remember

I recently watched a movie that was being shown on one of the cable channels (or half watched it to be more precise). Since I had to run an errand somewhere in the middle of it, I missed a considerable portion before I could manage to get back and see the conclusion. The movie was called “The Thomas Crown Affair" (the remake; starring Pierce Brosnan & Rene Russo).
“What a clever way to a steal a painting and an even better way to put it back.”
That is what I recall thinking after having watched the bits and pieces of the film that I did.
Because I had missed a major chuck of the movie, I decided to get my self a DVD and see the whole of it in one go .
This unfortunately did not turn out to be one of the better decisions of my life.
The icing on top of my blunder cake was that I even told my kids that they could watch this cool robbery film with me if they liked. Fortunately my son had to study so he skipped the family movie session (Thank God) but both my daughters (including the little one who is rarely interested in any film that does not include the name Barbie or something similar in the title) decided they had nothing better to do than accompany their Mama in watching the film she had brought home.

So there I was with almost my entire brood gathered around me for collective viewing when it suddenly dawned on me that there was a reason fate had intervened making me miss the middle part of the film. And that was because it was meant to be missed.

To be honest I don’t know what the kids found funnier, the fast moving obscenity on the screen or their mother’s desperate attempts to block it from their view. I sat with my thumb literally glued to the fast forward button for more than half the duration of the film. To cut the long story short, I ended up watching exactly the same parts of the movie as I did the fist time round; the beginning and the end. The rest went past in a blur of fast moving images, (though not fast enough judging from constant eruption of giggles from two highly amused young girls).

I checked the back of the DVD afterwards to find that it was rated R (Restricted viewing) not that it would have done me any good if I had checked it before buying the damn thing. I never did have any idea what those alphabets that denote ratings ever meant .
But I most certainly do now.
I guess it serves me right for buying a film without checking out its ratings and more so for inviting my children to watch it with me with out having watched it first from beginning to end.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bachey Humarey Ehed Key Hushiar Ho Gaye

Now that we are on the subject of fairy tales, did anyone ever find any of them weird as a child? I certainly never did. They seemed like perfectly normal children’s stories to me. Full of fairies, giants, princesses, castles, dragons and witches etc. My seven year old, however, sees a lot more in them than just these things.
A few days ago I was reading Jack and the Bean Stalk to her at bedtime. Every thing was going well till I reached the part where Jack sprints off with the giant’s gold, hen and harp. At that point my daughter looked up at me and asked very solemnly,
“Isn’t Jack stealing from the giant”?
“I guess he is”. I said
“But stealing is bad, than how can jack be a good person if he commits a sin"?
My seven year old realized the injustice prevalent in the story, something I was not able to do when I was a child. Maybe I was the product of an age when things were accepted as they were without much questioning. Then again, maybe I was just plain dumb
It never occurred to me when I was a kid as to how a common thief can be the good guy in the story if he continues to go back to steal someone else’s stuff while the giant is labeled as the antagonist, when all that he is trying to do is get his things back and teach jack a lessons for pinching them in the first place. (There is another less popular version which states that every thing Jack took had belonged to his father at one time. The giant was the thief who stole from his Jack’s father so Jack was only bringing back what was rightfully his inheritance. But that is just poppycock; it does not even make sense. For instance, where would Jack’s father, a mere mortal, get his hands on a magic harp and golden egg laying hen to begin with).
This moral dilemma occurred with disturbing frequency in several of my childhood stories ranging from Jack and the Beanstalk to Puss in Boats.
What I never realized back then was that these children’s’ stories actually depicted European mentality at that time, which more or less stated that you have a right to claim as yours what ever takes your fancy and if the owners object, it is perfectly justified to kill them, subjugate them or get rid of them any other way you see fit. History is full of living examples of this. Colonies were set up all over the world based on pretty much this very principle.

Perhaps that is why I appreciate the concept of motion pictures like Shrek. So what if you are an ogre, ugly and even bad tempered. No one has the right to kill you or throw you out of your place as long as you are minding your own business and harming no one. I am glad that this is the message which is now being conveyed to children. Perhaps that is the reason they have a better understanding of the realities of life than we, their parents did as children. They are sharper, cleverer and more perceptive.
I got a hefty doze of this keen awareness of theirs when I made up a story of a boy who played computer and video games all day long; a concept that was instantly rejected by my young daughter.
“There is no way he can play all day long”. She scoffed. “He has to stop during load shedding hours”.
I did not know weather to be delighted because my child was clever enough to take note of this technical flaw in my story or be devastated because to a seven year old, load shedding had become such an integral part of every day routine that life with out it , even in make belief stories could not be accepted.
Bottom line is, you can’t fool these kids. “That is how things are” and “you just have to accept it as such” are no longer appropriate answers. Children nowadays want answers that make sense, which can satisfy their ravenous curiosity. And I am ashamed to admit that I do not have satisfactory answers to more that half the questions my kids throw my way.