Posted: 25 June 2013 at 2:38am | IP Logged
Found this on fb...I remember we discuss the same few days back about reality shows.
Sheela Ka Bachpan
A couple of years ago, my brother was invited as the Chief Guest at the Annual Cultural Show of a zilla parishad school in a village some 100 km. from Pune. It was a show typical of small rural schools; a few long winded speeches by the local 'dignitaries', then the prize distribution followed by the performances by the kids. There were small skits and dances set to the tune of popular Bollywood numbers.
One little girl performed three different dances. She couldn't have been more than nine or ten, and yet, already a star performer! She moved flawlessly, every little movement, supple and graceful. She danced like she was born to dance. Her stage presence, her ability to dance, her natural sense of rhythm were all very impressive for someone her age, except, the choice of songs was pretty unfortunate. I watched horrified, as she gyrated to the tune of Munni Badnaan Hui and a couple of other hit 'item numbers'. She was imitating the original dancers perfectly. As she heaved her non-existent bosom suggestively to the words 're atam baam hui, darling tere liye', I closed my eyes in utter mortification.
After the show, we were invited for refreshments in the school office. Some parents were also present. The mother of that child eagerly sought me out to seek my opinion on her daughter's performance. Someone had informed her that I was a journalist.
She was one of those people who hover forever in the no-man's land between rural and urban India. Her sari was the slinky, sequined wonder that you see on so many Bollywood stars, she had her eyebrows shaped into thin bows, but she wore her pallu on her head and a big stick-on bindi. Her speech had a smattering of English words but all delivered in a local accent.
'Did you see the dance? Doesn't my daughter dance wonderfully'? She asked me in Marathi.
'Yes, she does, but don't you think the song was a bit too mature for her'? I asked.
'Oh, she loves this song', the mother answered proudly. 'She wants to do nothing but dance to Bollywood music. Maybe someday she will get to dance on TV.' I lapsed into silence. That conversation lingered in my mind for a long time.
A few months after that incident, I was called for tea by the mother of Diya, a girl my kids knew from their skating class. Diya lived in a four bedroom apartment in one of Pune's poshest suburbs. The girl attended one of the best, most exclusive private schools in the area and both her parents were urban, upper middle class and highly educated.
As we talked over tea, Diya hovered in the background. 'She wants to show you her dance', explained her mother. 'Sure', I said. Her mom inserted a CD in the music system and pressed 'play'. The familiar refrain of 'Sheela Ki Jawani' started playing and Diya danced to it, replicating perfectly, each and every move of Katrina Kaif. 'Sheela ki Jawani' was followed by a performance of 'Chikni Chameli'. As Diya gyrated her narrow, ten year old's waist to the song and imitated the act of gulping down liquor to the ultimate poetic imagery of 'pawwa chadha ke aayi', I squirmed in my seat uncomfortably.
Once her performance was over, her mom squealed, 'doesn't she dance like a dream? She attends the dance class run by this famous Bollywood Choreographer. I have to pay through my nose, but her teacher says she has great potential. She says Diya should be on a dance reality show by the time she is twelve!' Her mother continued to prattle, but I had tuned out completely. I remembered the earlier conversation with the mother of the child from the Zilla Parishad School.
The mothers could not have been more different from each other, but they both had the exact same aspiration for their children, that the child should be a TV star! They were willing to let their daughters dance to vulgar, suggestive numbers, mouthing words they probably did not even know the meaning of! I felt revolted.
The proliferation of Reality Shows on Indian Television has spawned this whole breed of overambitious parents who would go to any length to ensure that their offspring gets his/her fifteen minutes of fame.
It saddens me tremendously to write this, but why are so many parents treating their child's innocence as a disposable commodity? As it is, childhood is fast shrinking these days under the constant onslaught of television, the internet and aggressive marketing by businesses. All we can hope to enjoy are the first few years of innocence, as fragile and as ephemeral as soap bubbles gently floating in the sunlight. All of us know that the bubbles will burst soon. Real soon. And yet, some parents insist on deliberately pricking these bubbles with the rusted pin of adult aspirations and desires!
Sheela's Jawani will overtake her, sooner or later, I am afraid, whether the parents like it or not. But till it comes-a-knocking, as parents, let us try and let Sheela enjoy her fleeting moments of childhood, shall we?