There is an extremely inspiring article in the Indian Express (Sunday Edition) today titled “From Sir With Love” (http://www.indianexpress.com/sunday/story/260332.html) on the inspiration behind the movie, Amole Gupte, who has drawn from instances in his life to write the script of the movie Taare Zameen Par.
Aamir Khan has played the role of Gupte’s real life art teacher Ramdas Sampat Nikumbh. Gupte, unlike Isham Nandraj Awasthi, was a brilliant student at school always coming out a winner; and like the character loved to paint but was battered by pushy parents and our blind education system. “As a kid, once you start winning, you are doomed to repeat the success”, he says.
Gupte goes on to point something very important about how the human society is engrossed in this maddening competition. He says, “If a kid is hyperactive at home because of a decline in playing spaces outside in our urban areas, it’s not a problem. Animals accept their offspring as they are. A tribal father in a jungle will accept the way his kid is; he isn’t bothered about his kid’s pace of climbing a tree, but we always seem to be judging. Even in an art workshop, parents say, ‘Why is your tree not perfect?’ ‘Why are the walls of your house not straight like the others? …’ It’s a pity that we have stopped finding the beauty in the ordinary. Now we have no allowance for deviance”.
This is a very significant point. All parents want their children to study hard and become first-graders, cut-off admission percentages in most Delhi colleges for decent courses is now in the range of 90% and above, schools are now not education children in readying them for life but rather readying them for the IITs and top-notch colleges.
There is a certain kind of sadness about this whole thing; this endless race to become the best. There can be only one winner in a 100-meter race, and we all want our children to be this winner. Yet life is not about 100-meter races; it is a long-marathon, just to make an inept sort of comparison, between running and life.
Yet this marathon of life has all winners. There are no losers. For what becomes of a so-called winner in this world? He still becomes old, even after accumulating extraordinary amounts of wealth, which he can not spend in seven lifetimes, and eventually dies, and gets buried or burnt depending upon the region and religion he was born in.
During the lifetime ofcourse, life would have been quite comfortable. This can be the only argument. It can also be argued that we should pursue and enjoy material gains because what else is there in life. Enjoyment is fine, but greed is probably not. It does not get us where we say we want to go as an overall race and as a society.
The race for being numero uno is all about greed. It is untrue if it argued that it is about being good at what you do. Had that been the case, parents would have encouraged children in our society to identify their core in-born interests and groomed them to pursue these interests.
Our whole system of parenting, bringing up, education, etc. is so entrenched in “me becoming better than the other“, that you create insecurity in children, and then try have them see security in studying better and making something from their lives. There is an extraordinary sense of sadness in this whole structure.
The Waldorf Schools are an excellent break from this sick education system, and the competitive madness. There have been experimental schools in India as well, although my guess is they are few, and not in the mainstream.
This is why, Taare Zameen Par, is such a relief. As Gupte aptly puts it, “The reactions, especially of fathers, surprised me. That people are coming out of the theatres with wet handkerchiefs shows that the heart of the nation is in place. The success of the film strengthens that hope.”