Not so long ago, we all were watching a hollywood super hero movie, a largely safe bet for family viewing. As the climax drew closer, the leading man and his damsel in distress got a little too close for our desi family’s comfort. There was uncomfortable shifting on the sofa. The tension in the room weighed heavy and the kids hardly knew where to look.
I frantically started searching for the remote. The stakes of what was about to appear on screen were much higher than whatever universe-threatening evil force the hero was fighting against! The lovebirds passionately started moving towards each other. I hit the remote button just in time. The screen changed to Patanjali advertisement; Swasthya twacha ke liye gaai ke shuddh doodh se bani cold cream. The channel gets changed again after couple of minutes and the movie skips forward to the fighting once more. Another day our kids did not have to watch two grown-ups kiss on screen.
Indian parents are some of the most vigilant gatekeepers of objectionable content in the world. They can shout at each other in front of their kids and scar them for entire life but would never allow them to watch remotely adult content or any sort of PDA (public display of affection) on TV or talk about it. 90 per cent of kids have seen their parents holding hands only when daddy’s down two pegs at some random wedding dancing to “Ae meri Zohra Zabin”. Most parents see no reason to allow the child to understand the matured content in safe environment, which is their house, as it brings unnecessary awkwardness. I mean, why have ‘The talk’ when you can ignore until your kids grow old enough to figure it out themselves.
Needless to say, we have all grown up in shuddh desi houses where TV watching was a ritual with remote-control, the weapon of defence, in Dad’s hands. Anything remotely adult, change the channel…handled…done!!
Ever wondered why Indian TV shows are mostly about Bahu becoming Makkhi or a Saas turning out to be Zehreeli Nagin. It’s not that there is dearth of creativity in our country. The real reason behind it is this awkwardness between parents and kids. Demand and supply you see. Even the TV serial producers don’t want to mess with the great Indian family time. Forget about kids, even the parents don’t get to see what they are legally allowed! In India, from teenagers to 35 yrs old single men and women living with their parents are referred to as kids for some reason. So these ‘kids’ find other avenues for all the information and poor parents at the max comment on Facebook post, “Comment me 6 type kare aur kamaal dekhe!!”
Thanks to Netflix and other internet based services, things have changed in last couple of years. Our parameters of indecent, immoral and the general sense of hawwness have evolved significantly. Bollywood also has stopped shying away from on-screen kisses, and intimate scenes and bold dialogues have made their way into mainstream cinema, becoming more than just a cheap prop to promote B-grade movies.With flexible timings and multiple viewing facilities, we can watch what we want without getting judged.
Children should be protected, but not made to live in an alternate reality that leaves them unprepared to have a healthy, adult life in the actual one. Streaming has changed the way we consume entertainment. Before the internet, entertainment time meant television time, which necessarily meant family time. But that’s not the case anymore. If there are four people in my family, and at any given time, all can be found in different parts of the house, watching what they want.
But yes, still I can’t sit through an intimate scene on TV with my kids or my parents in the room without itching for the remote control. This awkwardness is just too deep rooted 🙂