THERE is such a disparity between the way family relationships are portrayed on television and what we are seeing in new Bollywood films. On TV, there are shows that have titles like Maat Pita Ke Charnon Mein
Swarg and Mera Naam Karegi Roshan, while on the big screen, teens are rebelling against parents. A parent was offended by a scene in the recent Udaan, in which a kid pushes and constantly flouts his father’s rules. The father in Udaan is a psycho, but most middle-class parents would want their kids to get an education, and then decide what they want to do with their lives. A lot of parents were also concerned with the message conveyed through the hit 3 Idiots, which ignored the fact that parents work hard to get their kids into professional colleges, in the hope that a good career would improve the quality of their life. Instead, the film encourages a boy to abandon his studies mid-day and go off to do something fanciful like wildlife photography.
Odd when you think that till a few years back, mainstream films were advocating unconditional obedience. In Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, a daughter meekly agrees to marry an unsuitable man because her father ordered her to, and the man she loved did not agree to elope – they would marry only if her father gave his blessings.
In Hum Aapke Hain Koun before that, a girl quietly agrees to marry her dead sister’s husband and look after their child, sacrificing her own wishes for the sake of the family. In Indian culture, the story of the sacrificing dutiful son Shrawan is extolled as the ideal parent-child relationship. Lord Ram had unquestioningly obeyed his father, abdicated his rights and left on a 14-year Banwas. In Indian cinema, the father was always feared and the mother revered. In current urban cinema, the mother is ignored, the father defied, or the parents are increasingly dispensed with altogether.
Society has changed, young people are demanding independence at a younger age, leaving home, seeking professional opportunities wherever they please. And this was bound to reflect in our films. In Kerala, films about old, abandoned parents are made with alarming regularity, and Mumbai films might start looking at the trend of the crumbling family structure too. But typically, mainstream cinema is in a hurry to please the demographic (the under 30s) it is aiming it.
Udaan has apparently found a following among youth, who will be very happy to equate smoking, drinking, stealing and bunking school to watch porn films as ‘rebellion’, not stopping to think that there is a lot more to rebel against and rebel for. In films, the end is rainbow happy – the ‘idiot’ becomes a successful photographer. In Udaan, the boy has friends offering him a carefree life. And you bet such films won’t care for a sequel.
Our films don’t want to acknowledge failure or despair. Or that the parent was right!