Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Notes from a Mum to teenagers

I had been to this book launch and talked to the author.

Name: Crushes, Careers & Cellphones
Author: Manjiri Gokhale Joshi
Publisher: Vitasta
Price: Rs 199

When you are a kid, parents are “ancient”, and possible source of embarrassment before peers. Not that they try to understand you, but somehow they are unable to understand today's pace of life and “over-react.”
They fuss over your grades, participation in a play, praise you sky high before friends and relatives, while you squirm and wish they would stop...
Sometimes you try and tell them it's okay to go out with guys if you are a girl and with girls you are a guy. What's the big deal in hanging out together?
These and many more issues affecting today's kids and youngsters have been written by Manjiri Gokhale Joshi in her book, “Crushes, Career & Cellphones”.
Manjiri describes the book as, “Quick notes from a mum to a teenager.”
Before you make up your mind that this is another children's book talking down to kids, you are wrong. Teenagers across the world (Fifteen kids from Pune) have also contributed their views on what the Mum (Manjiri) to two daughters has written. So if you have the mother frowning upon the excessive usage of texting, pinging and being connected with friends at the dining table, the teenagers have the chance to air their side of the story in “From the teenagers' chatroom” section.
Besides light-hearted topics like “Big deal”, “Embarrassment” and “Achievement,” the book also talks about single parents, divorce and stepparent/stepchildren.
Children's books have often portrayed the stereotypical happy family: Mum, Dad and two kids. But, if you look around there are so many single mums, single dads, divorced or widows. They also do their best to give their child love of both mother and father and vice versa. Children brought up in such families are also happy. So I have tried to address these issues as well,” says Manjiri who is a step-parent.
The book's thrust is on telling the kids that, while their parents may not say it aloud, they want their sons and daughters to come back home if they have been in a problem - drugs alcohol or failure. Suicide isn't the answer, talking is.

Teenagers comment

1) Mum, Dad, please do not overreact if I go out with my best friend if he is a boy.
- Sanghamitra Shastri
Std IX, Delhi Public School

  1. It's okay to sleep over at a friend's place once in a while. And, I am old enough to walk down to the mall unescorted.
- Aishwarya Raj
Std XI, Nowrosjee Wadia College
  1. Ma, don't read my text messages and if you do, don't be surprised by its content. Don't pair me with my girl friends. They are friends who are girls.
- Adnan Shaikh
Std XI, Delhi Public School
  1. It's okay if parents flaunt our achievements. After all when we were young, we loved to boast about what toys or games we had. So what's the big deal if parents praised our minor achievements before their friends.
Virajas Kulkarni
Mass communication Student at Mithibai College

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Let them Be

This was written for the point of view coloumn.

I had always told myself that when I get older I am never going to spell the “g” word – generation gap or compare how it was when we were kids. I knew it sounded condescending and I hated when the adults uttered it, especially when the comparison was unfair. Yet, I found myself thinking on those adult lines.
I was meeting a group of ten-year-old girls, tweens as they are called now, as a part of an assignment. They all were smart, confident, chirpy and smiling. No trace of self-consciousness or inferiority complex and far too assured.
They knew exactly how they wanted to be captured on the camera with their dolls, designer bags, lips painted red, with a pout which would put Angelina Jolie to shame. All this at the age of 10.
I was amazed and aghast in turns to see the young adults/women, who are a representative of what the kids of today behave and think like. I had this terrible urge to take them by the shoulder and shake them and tell that “when I was your age....” Almost as soon as the thought popped in, I choked back on the words and of course the action. For once instead of rebuking the kids and dismissing them as vain, I tried to be fair - to their age and the times they are growing up in.
I know that girls of my age, when we were growing up, would have died to possess the adult hand bag or heels or apply nail paint. But, we weren't allowed to. “Act your age” was always dinned in to us. Plus add the fact that it wasn't exactly a consumerist era. No malls, no extravagant shopping trips; it wasn't a land of plenty then. So you grew up simply without frills and fancies – without any option.
Now that the malls and brands are coming to town can we shun them altogether? Can we disregard the abundance and raise the kids as they were in 70s and 80s? I don't think it would be wise. It's just not possible to go into a flashback mode.
A better idea would be to equip the kids with the effects of growing up too fast, to teach them the importance of money and to see beyond the trivialities of shopping in a mall. Let them grow without a stunted, myopic view of the two extremes: “I am celebrating my birthday at Pizza Hut” or “I don't celebrate my birthday. My mother says that we should always think of the poor, so we donate some money instead of a party.”
I would like to repeat the oft-heard catchphrase of the kids - “Let us be.”

Tech Family

Hubby is “wired” even while he's unwinding at home;
Daughter's Wii keeps her company in the loo;
Son surfs Net and plays video games to refresh himself;
Poor wifey! She is one of those homo sapiens, who inhale oxygen, while the rest of the family eat, breathe and sleep technology.
Welcome to the new Indian family.

Witching Hour
Shyamoli Arte pauses mid-way while talking and looks expectantly at the clock. On cue, her husband's phone buzzes with a text message. She sighs when her husband flips open the cellphone and then shuts it back after checking the sender's name.
I call it the “witching hour”. My husband's friend texts him ludicrous jokes at 11 pm. Every night. And yet my hubby has to reach out for the cell. His refrain is 'What if there's a message from my client?' I don't know what causes me more heartburn – A husband hugging cellphone to his ear for business calls or his insane friend who has a wrong timing,” fumes Shyamoli.

Playing “Office-Office”
Six months into marriage and Manjula Arvindan forgot she had a husband.
I married a non-fussy man. Every day he had a quick shower, a quick breakfast and then he was off to his work place. I had the entire day to laze around, to watch movies, to sleep, to shop. But, no one to speak with. In the evenings, he followed a similar routine: a quick shower, quick snack and then working on his laptop. I won't call him my husband, he was a flat-mate,” she remarked dryly.
Having made up her mind that she didn't want to share her life with a flat-mate, Manjula tried various ruses.
I nagged, I got angry, I shed a few tears. But, it was like water rolling of the duck's back; I didn't succeed,” says Manjula.
But taking up a job, and sitting next to her husband with her laptop working into the night seemed to do the trick.
Till that moment Arvindan hadn't registered his wife's presence, but he did notice a “colleague” working on a laptop. He's changed now. Arvindan does work at home, but he also reads books, and we go out more often now,” grins Manjula.

They breathe technology
Thirty five-year-old Sonia Vaidya was born with a phone. She's continuously yapping away to friends, families on her i-phone and updating her pictures, thoughts and ideas on the FB wall.
My husband checks i-tunes every five minutes as if he discovers a new album each time. He also keeps uploading music every five minutes. My nine-year-old daughter Anisha is obsessed with Nintendo and Wii. They accompany her when she goes to the loo. Technology and gadgets are essential to us, more important than oxygen,” says Sonia.
So isn't she ever jealous, angry or upset with the husband who prefers the gadget over her?
Well, when my husband ignores me for long, I ask him to “choose” - Choose between ipod or me. Of course, I know that after spending time with me he will go back to uploading music. I can't keep away from my phone for long either. In fact when there's special occasion, my husband and daughter want to know if I have uploaded it or tweeted it,” she beams.

Intruder in the Bedroom
A click of the TV switch alerts Swaty Sharma to her husband's presence. She pulls the bed cover over her face while her husband Manas settles down to watch TV.
It's like a reflex action. Upon entering their bedroom, Manas has to switch on the TV and is lulled to sleep with the idiot box chattering away in the background. Swaty, who can't sleep with the flickering light, lies quietly in the bed till Manas starts snoring. She then tip toes across the room and switches it off. She waits for couple of minutes to see if Manas's stirs. When he doesn't, she pulls the bed cover and nods off to sleep.

It's a Deal!
Simran Shetty and her husband have a pact.
My husband is a games addict and he can play for three to four hours at a stretch on week-ends. I am not an addict so I can't understand his fascination. So, we have decided that he can play with his toys when I am in the kitchen. But after I have finished with my kitchen duties, he has to stop playing,” she says.
Well, one problem has been sorted out. But, there are other issues too.
We share different tastes. I am a movie buff, and he likes to know what's happening around the world. We don't have a TV at home, so while I watch movies on my laptop, Ashish browses news websites. If we are at home on week-ends, we often sit next to each other with our laptops watching movies and news and talking to each other. Not chatting!,” says Simran.

PS: Dear Wives,
Do not despair. Insist on being the “apple” of your husband's eyes. Beat the machine at its game.

Dhoosar: First Cut

Suniti returns home after two years to find out that her mother doesn't recognise her.
That's the story in one line of Amol Palekar's soon to be released Marathi film, Dhoosar (Blurred).
Being a Palekar film, the expectation of the audience will be certainly high and the fact that it has bagged Maharashtra State Awards in three categories – Best Film, Best Direction and Best Music – ensures its critical success.
The cast and crew of Dhoosar - Reema Lagoo, Smita Tambe (Suniti), Upendra Limaye and Amruta Khanvilkar - were in the city at the launch of the film's website, wwww.dhoosarthefilm.com. The website was launched by ace shutterbug Gautam Rajadhyaksha.
The film revolves around Lagoo and Tambe, who play mother-daughter in the movie. Lagoo plays the role of Suhasini who suffers from Alzheimer.
Rajadhyaksha, who has previewed the movie, said that it was beautifully shot in a non-linear pattern punctuated with flashbacks and unfolding in present time. It shows the helplessness of the family members as the disease has no finality
Praising Lagoo's performance, Palekar says, “Reema has played mother to all the Khans in the industry, but as mother of Suniti in Dhoosar, she will stand out. Her performance is natural and subtle, so much so that she lost out on the Maharashtra State's Best Actress award for the film. The jury felt that 'Reema Lagoo hasn't acted at all' and unwittingly paid her the best compliment. I didn't want any of my actors to be 'over the top' or show that they could 'act'.”
Lagoo affirms Palekar's statement saying, “I have very few dialogues in the movie. Dhoosar is in the true sense a Chitrapat (Visual medium) and not a Bolpat (Talkie).”
Sandhya Gokhale, the script-writer and co-director of the film, said, “I took three weeks to write the script. I intended that the film shouldn't be a cliché tear-jerker and I hope I have succeeded.”
The movie also sees the return of Upendra Limaye in a Palekar film after a long gap. Limaye had earlier acted in Palekar's Bangarwadi.
Showering fulsome praise on Limaye, Palekar says, “Upendra is a very powerful, intense actor and a very dear friend of mine. I took almost seven years after Bangarwadi to cast him in Dhoosar. But he fit the role perfectly. With this performance, I am sure Upendra will endear himself to non-Marathi audience. His role in Dhoosar will be an important milestone in his career just like Jogwa was.”
Like Limaye, Kishore Kadam alias Soumitra has also returned in Palekar's film as a lyricist. Soumitra has penned four songs including a rock song (first time in Palekar's directorial venture) to the tune of Anand Modak's compositions. This is Modak and Soumitra's second film together with Palekar and Gokhale.

Perky Amruta in Palekar's Dhoosar

The perky Amruta Khanvilkar is the surprise package in Amol Palekar's Dhoosar.
Considering her pretty, glamourous image and Palekar's sensitive, social themes, one wonders if the twain will match.
Of course,” shoots back Amruta. “I'm playing a small but important role of Karla, who is the girl friend of Upendra sir's (Limaye) character in the movie.”
Talking more about the role, Amruta says, “I am deeply in love with Arjun (Upendra's character). She wants him to settle in life and is always searching job/occupation for him. They meet Suhasini (Reema Lagoo) accidentally and sensing her helplessness, they move into her house as caregivers. Karla's character is positive to begin with, but when Arjun gets emotionally entangled with Suhasini and lets job opportunities pass by, she becomes resentful and breaks-up with him.”
Amruta says the character's blunt and practical outlook appealed to her and that's why she jumped at the chance to act in Dhoosar.
Of course I couldn't say no to Amol Palekar's movie. It shows his faith in me,” she smiles.
Palekar too is happy with Amruta's performance and says, “After this movie, Amruta will be known as an actress. It will help in shedding her 'vajle ki bara' image.”
We will know if Palekar's faith in Amruta isn't misplaced after the movie releases. But, Amruta is happy with the roles she has bagged and the way her career is shaping.
After Dhoosar, I have Abhay Sarpotdar's Satrangi Re in which I play a radio jockey. Then I have Sujay Dahake's Shala, based on Milind Bokil's novel by the same name. I have also acted in Zee TV's Zakaas,” says Amruta ticking of the list.
That's surely a lot of work on her plate. We wish her All the Best!

Pleasant shock for Smita

Smita Tambe had a pleasant shock one day prior to the shooting of Dhoosar. An actress, who was supposed to play the character role, suddenly found herself shooting for the lead role!
It was too good to be true. But IT'S TRUE and I am really thankful to Amol Palekar because Dhoosar is my first picture as a leading actor,” exults Smita.
As per the original casting plan, Smita was supposed to play the role of Karla (now played by Amruta Khanvilkar) while Mugdha Godse was to perform the role of Suniti, daughter to Reema Lagoo's Suhasini. But after the first script reading session, Smita got a call from Palekar that she is going to play Suniti.
Smita, who has earlier worked in Jogwa, says, “My role in the film is of a reactionary response. My mother has Alzheimer and I respond/react to it. I didn't study or read about Alzheimer because in the movie I am supposed to be clueless about what the disease is.”
Smita adds that acting in the film wasn't very tough because Palekar had a very clear vision about Suniti and how she was supposed to behave – eat, walk, talk and speak.
We had the corrected script a month in advance and we also had script reading sessions, discussions so we knew what lay in store. There was no confusion, no last-minute changes. Perhaps that resulted in our comfort level as actors,” she says.
Since the movie revolves around the mother-daughter it was essential that I shared a good relationship with my screen mother. I am very thankful to Reema tai who treated me like her daughter from the very first day.
Smita, who believes in playing meaty characters, already has her first Hindi movie lined up.
I am acting in Jaane Tu Ne Kya Kahi, my first Hindi film. I have also signed another Hindi film. It's a big-budget one, but I can't reveal the details,” she grins.
So will Hindi cinema be her first preference from now?
“Language is no barrier, only roles matter,” concludes Smita.

Sushama Datar on Saath-Saath

  1. How does Saath-Saath inculcate the structured and conscious approach towards marriage?
    Let me begin by saying that Saath-Saath doesn't promote love marriages amongst its members. Nor does it advocate kande-pohe type of arranged marriages. It takes the middle path where the boys and girls are provided with a platform to meet, interact, understand and weigh the pros and cons of being married.
    We organise picnics, get-togethers where the members meet in an informal atmosphere and play several games which reflect their thought-process and social inclination. We also hold lecture sessions like money/investment, career, health and success stories.
    We want the boys and girls at Saath-Saath to come to the big decision - “He is the one I want to get married to” - the volunteers are just the facilitators.
  2. What are the “trends” in the present-day marriages?
    If we look at the big picture, the trends or expectations have remained the same to a large extent. Girls want husbands with bigger pay packet, while boys are unwilling to look beyond “fair and lovely” stereotypes.
    I remember being approached by a 32-year-old good-looking, educated young man doing well professionally. He confessed that he had a block against plain-looking girls. I told him, “Looks aren't everything” to which he retorted, “But, what if I am repulsed by her body/physique? Physical relations are important too.” He had a point. So I had to try other ways like, “becoming friends, interacting with the girls and asking himself if he could see beyond their physical looks.”
    Then, there's the question of inter-caste weddings. There have been few instances at Saath-Saath where Brahmin-Maratha weddings have taken place; they are not readily accepted by the society
  3. Can you elaborate on the role-play of boys and girls vis-a-vis marriage?
    Girls are open and willing to explore maybe because that's the way they have been brought up for centuries. Men live in a cocoon, unless they have working mothers and therefore take on some household duties. Otherwise it has to be dinned into them that after marriage there will arise a situation when they have to accompany their wives to the market to buy vegetables or sometimes be expected to change the bedsheets.
    Therefore, we have role-playing sessions at Saath-Saath where the men and women are made to act out certain situations. It sounds like intellectualising marriage, but it does make some men and women think about life post-wedding.
  4. The economics of getting and leading a marriage is known better. What about the health issue?
    Health is an important issue because so many late marriages are taking place. The biological clock doesn't tick only for women, it ticks alarmingly for men too. Think of the stress and the effect it has on sperms! For the women it's the rising cases of Poly-cystic Ovarian Disorder.
    Also, there's a new phenomenon – DINS or Double Income No Sex. We have had a doctor talking on this topic. The couples are so tired and fatigued that there's no time for intimacy. Couples who work for long hours need to think about this.
    Another doctor has also urged prospective couples to undergo certain tests, including thalessemia and HIV+, before getting married. They are necessary for the health of the family – husband, wife and the unborn kid.
Saath-Saath was started by Vidya Bal, and her colleagues of Milun Sarya Jani magazine, in 1994. In 1999, the team decided to steer the organisation towards becoming Saath-Saath Vivah Abhyas Mandal from being just a marriage bureau.
Saath-Saath means co-existence in marriage and the tags of Vivah Abhyas Mandal (Marriage Study Circle) encourage boys and girls to learn how to handle marriage by adopting a structured and conscious approach.
The members meet every Sunday morning and Thursday evening at Marathwada Mitra Mandal College.