When it comes to movies, we generously intertwine the stories with ours, it could be a heart break, a friendship or a moment—these stories become ours and we become theirs. Every movie that we watch is a personal experience and each person’s takeaway from that movie is different. The bracket of the viewers varies not just in their identity but also their age. Since, we are in time when mental health is increasingly becoming an important aspect of every day conversations, parenting is also becoming an equally significant part of the same. The way children are raised and the way parents respond to a child’s insecurities and vulnerabilities are tectonic in the way that child perceives the environment and their own self. Hindi cinema is beginning to change the discourse by bringing in nuanced themes amongst them is–good parenting.
It is important to magnify this theme because often our lives are subtly influenced by what we watch and if it is so then it is important that we introspect the motifs that constitute the idea of healthy parenting. It is fair to say that in Queen, Rani’s parents, who belong to a lower-middle class, let their daughter be comfortable in her skin. Considering the gaze of the society that dominates the decision making in any household, her parents withdrew from that construct and encouraged her to take a solo trip which ideally was suppose to be her “honeymoon”.
Similarly, in Bareily ki Barfi, Bitti’s father smokes with her, cheers for her and stands with her choice of lifestyle—be it her association with the opposite gender or her language. Or Sridevi in English Vinglish is another example, that a parent too can learn new things at a certain age or that insecurities that are deep seated, can be addressed and for that one does not have to be a “millennial”. It is essential that we put emphasis on why all of this is important because here a child is allowed to figure out the world and experience the challenges on their own. There is no one way of raising a good human and likewise there is no one mould to fit a child into.
Sridevi in English Vinglish is another example, that a parent too can learn new things at a certain age or that insecurities that are deep seated, can be addressed and for that one does not have to be a “millennial”.
Following are 4 movies from Hindi cinema that portray parents who are not just progressive but maintain a balance between allowing and restricting:
1. Paa | R. Balki | 2009
Auro (Amitabh Bachchan) is 13 year old diagnosed with progeria. While the movie opens its door towards acceptance as a central plot, it also measures the courage a single woman shows by making her own choice to raise a child. Vidya (Vidya Balan) decides that she wants to keep the child irrespective of Amol’s (Abhishek Bachchan) concerns. Vidya’s mother is also a character that portrays a mother who is willing to stand up for her daughter and support her choices with conviction. In the scene, where Vidya is in a confrontation with her mother on whether or not she should keep the baby, her mother clearly asks her—baccha chahiye ki nahi chahiye (Do you want the child or not?). While Vidya tries to justify that she still is studying, she has to practice medicine and it will be difficult to raise a child as a single mother, her mother impresses on the fact that she too did it alone.
Vidya also allows Auro to build his own equation with his father and does not spoon feed the “should and should nots”. Auro was raised amidst women who knew where to draw a line and when to cross it.
2. Nil Battey Sannata | Ashwini Iyer Tiwari | 2016
In the world full of young children, who feel that their aspirations and ambitions are not given any heat, Nil Battey Sannata is a class apart comment on how a mother makes a young girl realise the importance of having a dream, an aspiration, living for yourself, and making those dreams come true. Although, the movie reflects upon how class disparities lead to disparities in who can dream what. Apeksha (Riya Shukla) and Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) again is a new age mother-daughter angle that does not adhere to the logic of respecting parents because they are parents but because they are as human as their children.
3. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na | Abbas Tyrewala | 2008
Acclaimed as the millennial love story, JTYJN is more than just what meets the eye. It has the most refreshing characters, a friend circle that is platonic, lead characters that are far from being the quintessential “hero” and “heroine”. Aditi and Jai’s parents are not only progressive, but they are also sensitive, aware and understanding of their children. Savitri (Ratna Pathak Shah) is a single mother who does not push her son to “be a man” or shames him for expressing his emotions or raise him as an entitled man.
She also impresses on the fact that one should not be part of a crowd and if need be, stand against the system. The scene where she says, “Hoton pe seeti, chaal mein uchaal, maajra kya hai?” tells you that she is the best wingwoman.
On the other hand, Aditi’s parents let their children be. While Aditi is fierce, her brother is an introvert, you can see that there is no pressure on the children or there is no template presented to them. While most parents conventionally encourage their children to conform to not only the societal norms but also to their gender, these were a bunch of cool parents who believed in “live and let live”.
It is fair to say that in Queen, Rani’s parents, who belong to a lower-middle class, let their daughter be comfortable in her skin. Considering the gaze of the society that dominates the decision making in any household, her parents withdrew from that construct and encouraged her to take a solo trip which ideally was suppose to be her “honeymoon”.
4. Khoobsurat | Shashanka Ghosh | 2014
While Ratna Pathak Shah is the mother who wants to enforce the ideal expectations on her children, Kirron Kher as Manju, first, normalised calling parents their name and secondly, finding your best friend, voice of reason, and solid support system in your parent. On one hand, we have Manju who looks like a woman who likes to get things done her way and wouldn’t want it any other way and on the other, it was refreshing to find Kaizad Kotwal as Sonam Kapoor’s dad who did not feel the need to affirm his place as the “head of the family” and was equally sensitive to her child’s heartbreak. Remember, Preet?
These little nuances add more layers to a character which may or may not be the most clear ones because of the limited time frame of each character. But it transcends to more important takeaways. One associates with these characters or aspires for similar connection. In the present times, it is challenging to accommodate differences but unlearning helps in the long way!
Our relations with our parents or vice versa, need to evolve constantly because most of the constructs presented by the society do not necessarily mean that they are valid.
Featured Image Source: KoiMoi