Mum and Dad are sitting in the verandah having coffee. Little Bittu who is seven is playing on his video game. Daddy tells Mommy that someone died.
Bittu asks: Who shot him?
At that age, using an average yardstick of ten a day in unsupervised TV watching all our little Bittus and Bittyas have witnessed as many as 4000 High Definition living colour acts of murder, massacre, rape, gratuitous violence and assault (much of it clothed in a romantic ‘warrior’ cast). And that is a modest estimate. Before his teens, Bittu will have seen in widescreen, cosmetic blood that could fill an Olympic pool.
The exposure is further heightened by Mum and Dad thinking their little genius is doing his homework whereas he is busy watching soft porn, hard porn and a rainbow range of sexual violence.
Since the gap between non-techie parents and info highway speedsters in India is massive, most of them have no idea of the dangers of the Internet.
Ergo, their children are scanned with pride when they lie about what they are doing on screen. And kids know how to eliminate history.
Our Bittu is so smart ji…all day he is on the computer, brilliant.
Add to this mix, the time spent on video games where maiming, destroying and annihilating the ‘enemy’ is of the essence and no cigars for concluding that kids today are immunized against the blood-spill.
Consequently, Pahlaj Nihalani’s decision to give a UA rating to The Jungle Book for being “scary” is a bit like fighting a samurai warrior with a toothpick. If the intention is to protect children from the savage scourge of little animals leaping about in 3D how does this film stack up against the free for all engagement with Phantasmagoria an arcade game banned in the US and Down Under for its horrific content. Available in India, FYI.
Then there is the Darkness where little Bits can become an assassin banned in the US and most of the world but available in India. And let’s not forget Mortal Kombat where players can literally thrash each other to death with their bare hands. Popular in India.Does anyone recall Manhunt best described as ‘a nihilistic horror where players must progress through increasingly violent stages by killing targets with gruesome and realistic executions, and are then graded for their level of brutality.”
Mum and Dad, are you listening?
With so much gore to choose from how scary could Raksha and Mowgli be? Would the adventures of Bagheera and Baloo and Father Wolf frighten one of our kids?
More likely they will roll with mirth in their seats.
Armed with a re-read of the book I ventured forth to ask some hep pre-teens if they wanted to go with Mum and Dad.
Would you be scared of little animals jumping out at you.
Expressions of bewilderment and surprise. General response: Why would I be frightened?
Would the 3D effect give you nightmares?
Naaah, I play Dead Space in the dark on the Ipad.
I say to one kid: I would be scared if Bagheera leaped at me in a dark cinema hall.
Raised eyebrows slicked with contempt.
Really, then come with us, we’ll look after you.
Pearls of wisdom for a nine year old who, along with a million others, for the next six weeks will watch cricketers mouth obscenities as they sit and watch under parental guidance.
Where do you live Pahlaj…in the boonies.
The train's long gone, mate, and you are the only one on the platform.