(Read it only after you have watched the flick)
It so happened that TZP was my first movie on a cinema hall alone. Although I tried to avoid that from happening, circumstances were against me. With the result that I was alone to watch a much-awaited movie with an already perturbed frame of mind. For the record, I am a huge fan of Aamir; he is my most favorite Indian personality from the glamour world. Before you read my criticisms, I would also like to tell you, I didn’t write this post two days back just after watching the movie because I wanted the movie hangover to die out – so that I could write sensibly!
TZP reminded me of RDB. Only it is filled with too many emotions and hence it is quite “heavy”. Apart from that there are many similarities with RDB. Both have a message. TZP is dealing with a more sensitive issue, so its message doesn’t come out starkly. But they managed to say one thing – don’t overburden/pressurize kids which terminates the individuality of every child. Both the movies are provoking. They leave an impact on the viewer; as in you get personally involved in the movie. TZP is so well made, that it even succeeded in reminding me of my childhood days. And I cried like a baby in the movie. It would be no wonder if TZP does good business and get good reviews, just like RDB.
What was fundamentally wrong in TZP? It succumbed to the pressure of providing a concrete ending. Pressure of giving an answer. Pressure of being accepted by the audience who would not like to go home with a sensitive issue such as schooling (which is the center point in the lives of children) being left unanswered, unjustified. Hence, the child becomes a hero – the best painter in the school – the public is happy and the movie ends. Unfortunately, the hidden message which passed on was the very message the movie is against of, the very message the movie is based on. Every child is special, hence no child should be forced to fulfill ‘unjustified’(?) expectations of parents, no child should be forced into the rat race of the competitive world and expected to ‘win’, and every child should be allowed that space which s/he needs to express her/his individuality. When Ishaan won the painting competition, he not only fulfilled his teacher’s ‘expectations’ by ‘winning’ a ‘competition’ he also strengthen the fact and sent the message: in the unavoidable rat race winning is essential!
Another aspect of the movie was: story of failure. Again, this issue is so complex that the failed child was shown to have a disability called Dyslexia in reading/writing; who nevertheless, had an above average intelligence. What about kids with average or below average intelligence? But of course, their story won’t be interesting enough to be shown in a movie!
The movie succeeded in showing two main issues: first, which was captured beautifully in the song Jame Raho, the act of bringing up a child who is innately unorganized in a highly regulated world we all live in. Second, to some extent, movie brought out the mystery behind failure: a teacher fails before a student does/can. I would take up both these issues separately and then together.
A child is raised by an adult who by definition would already be following a certain lifestyle, faces lot of trouble in getting accustomed to that lifestyle. This is the debate which is carried out in terms of Discipline Vs Freedom across the globe. Some rules and regulations are critical for all human beings to follow so as to sustain the community life. The questions here are: how is the discipline carried out? Does it suppress the freedom of an individual? Or can one create situations for developing self-discipline? What is self-discipline? In my understanding, a discipline which is authoritatively maintained not only kills the freedom of an individual, it dampens the chances of evolution of self-discipline. Hence, the problem is not of getting up early in the morning and following a routine, the problem is whose will is being followed when a routine is being followed. Is it yours or the world you live in?
Exactly one year back I wrote about failure after reading John Holt’s How Children Fail. Holt argues that children fail primarily because they are afraid, bored and confused. This combined with misguided teaching strategies and a school environment that is disconnected from reality and “real learning”, results in a school system that kills children’s innate desire to learn. This was evident in the movie. Though they hid behind Dyslexia, the reality is not so rosy. Even children with average level of intelligence fail, and suffer the same agonies which Ishaan faced. Yet, few adults among us ever talk about it or even acknowledge this as an issue.
I have talked to so many people in past few months while trying to explain them about my professional life and in return have been fortunate enough to hear what they think is the major problem with Indian education system. It is – children who can’t do math/science have no other options! Although, not untrue, this is still a very simplistic way of putting things. I would say the main problem with Indian education system is that it doesn’t give any skills to the young generation which are required to become independently thinking, rationalizing adults with basic values of equality, justice and freedom. Of course, when the education system itself doesn’t follow any of the above mentioned values, its no wonder the products of it would not possess any! A visit to any classroom in any of 99.9% schools of the country would prove my point.
It was not just to criticize or list the problems in education system that I started writing this post. Personally for me, movie succeeded in adding an aspect to my introspection. I live with a 4 year old child in my house. I see him being scolded a lot of times for speaking ill-words, for doing wrong deeds. This wrong/right is defined by an individual shaped by his perception of the world. What I don’t understand now is why do we try to enforce our definition of right/wrong on others, and unabashedly on our younger generation? Is it something we do because of our socialization process, that is the way we have been brought up, or is it innate psychologically? If it is latter I am both at peace (less work) and disturbed (can’t be done anything about). This enforcing habit is also directly related to our incapability of understanding other person. A child fails because he is not being understood by the adults or the system. In fact, nobody even cares to understand him/her. This is extreme in case of child because we don’t treat him as a thinking person who can have his own thoughts/understandings/beliefs. But, this is true even in one-to-one relationships among adults, as it was clear in Hum-Tum’s famous number – ladki kyon, na jaane kyon, ladkon si nahi hoti! I would attain my nirvana if I could stop enforcing my kind of lifestyle (which means – no pub, no club, no bowling, no expensive movies, no expensive plays…..) on people around me! :D