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Missing Children in Popular Hindi Cinema

I believe it was Nirad Chaudhuri who said something to the effect: Children in India grow old as soon as they are born. Depiction of children in Indian Cinema is just an illustration.

Remember the countless Hindi movies― old and new― with perverse logic of young children singing ‘Kya hua tera wada’ or ‘Bachpan ke din bula na dena’, Son of India conducting intimate monologues with God and singing ‘Nanha munna rahi hu’. Young Bootpolish wallay bachay are asked ‘nanhe munne bacche teri mutthi may kya hai’and wisely they reply ‘Mutthi may hai taqdeer hamari’.

Angry youngling with ‘Mera Baap Chor hai’ tattoo gets angry with God in another movie and in a frothy dialogue declares self to be a Nastik, just as the opening credits start to roll. In another movie he pulls a cart carrying his dead father, recently butchered by a mob, all the way to the shamshan ghat. In another movie, he is a beedi smoking foul mouth young would be krantiveer, he is a son of an ex-freedom fighter.

The lineage of ‘wise-beyond- their age’ children in this land can be traced back to time when children here first started to be told stories. Should we blame storytellers who told us about Nachiketa, gods who told us about Prahlada and Puranas that told us about Dhruv. Whom should we blame for telling us about Herculean adventures of Bal Krishna.

Notice the missing girl child. Talk about Cinematical Gendercide! She is playing with gudda guddi, playing the ever hungry, ill but dotting sister and she is the rich future love interest of the poor kid. She is the young gopi Radha, forlorn yet worshipped.
Young children have fought it all seen it all, creation of nations, fought devils and gods, brandished swords and guns, resisted evil aunties and uncles, indifferent parents

Children in popular Hindi cinema are in essence miniature men/woman, children pretending to be adults, and brought to life by adults pretending to be children. Children with adult gloom.

Reminds of lines of Matthew Arnold on the gipsy child that I read in Nirac C Chaudhuri’s To Live or Not To Live:
“Glooms that go deep as thine
I have not known:
Moods of fantastic sadness,
Nothing worth.
Thy sorrow and thy calmness
Are thine own:
Glooms that enhance and
Glorify the earth.”
“Enhanced and Glorified”, the weird ambiguous twilight world of popular Hindi Cinema, these children, these mini men and women, certainly have.

Related post:
Santosh Sivan's Tahaan


  1. A list of “must see” films for children compiled by British Film Institute
    According to the list The Top Ten films that every child should watch are:

    Bicycle Thieves (Italy - 1948)
    ET (US - 1982)
    Kes (UK - 1969)
    Les Quatre Cents Coups (France - 1959)
    The Night of the Hunter (KUS - 1955)
    Show Me Love (Sweden/Denmark -1998)
    Spirited Away (Japan - 2001)
    Toy Story ( US - 1995)
    Where is the Friend's House (Iran - 1987)
    The Wizard of Oz (US - 1939)

    Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali, chronicling the growing up of Apu, could have been the Indian addition to the list.
    Also, Santosh Sivan’s Halo (1997) certainly deserves mention.

  2. I recently saw a Spanish movie Viva Cuba
    directed brilliantly by Juan Carlos Cremata. The movie based in Cuba tells the story of an unusual friendship between a young boy and a girl. Both come from contrasting class backgrounds, the boy - Jorgito’s family is devoted to the Revolution, his working for the community father tells him “There is no God and Stars are balls of fire”. The girl – MalĂș comes from a well-to-do still religious family and she lives with her single mother and her grandmother. The two families live across each other’s house and in spite of their opposition, the friendship between the two children blossoms. When Malu’s Grandmother dies and her mother decides that she would leave the country, the children decide to run away to find Malu’s father who works at a lighthouse in a far away city . Before you know it, the simple tale of friendship between two children becomes an allegory for tale of reconciliation in a class divided society.


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