Thursday, May 26, 2005

No Kids Please!

This is just a rant on parents bringing their children to theaters, something I've seen in theaters screening Tamil movies here in the US. Though this is a common occurrence in almost all Tamil movies, the timing of this rant was prompted by the screening of Kanaa Kanden last weekend. Kids crying, running in the aisles and parents trying to console/control them spoils the moviegoing atmosphere for other viewers in the theater but I'm not going to go there in this post. This one's more on behalf of the kids.

There were three families with kids in tow for Kanaa Kanden, the kids ranging in age from probably 4-5 yrs to 9-10 yrs (older kids probably won't accompany their parents to any movie, let alone a Tamil movie!). And from the parents' conversations, it was obvious that they were film buffs, well aware of the kind of film Kanaa Kanden was going to be. There was no part of the movie that offered what could be construed as wholesome entertainment for kids that age. I mean, do the kids at this age really need to see a husband and wife talking about rape, skimpily clad women dancing suggestively and people being killed rather violently? I'm no psychiatrist but I can't think of anything constructive arising out of these kids watching the film.

And I have seen worse. I have seen kids at movies like Hey Ram and Kaakka Kaakka (I have personally heard a kid asking his father "Daddy, what is that uncle doing?" during a particularly unsavory scene in Hey Ram). I have seen sleepy babies being carried to night shows(this usually happens during popular movies), fed during the intermission and then carried back to the car in the cold night.

Indian(particularly Tamil) obsession for movies is well-known(I contribute to that obsession too :-) but isn't this carrying things a little too far? Why is it that the same Indian parents, who go to great lengths to make sure their children have the best life possible, do not realise the trouble they are putting the same children to, for their personal two and a half hours of entertainment? Is it that difficult for the parents to 1) find a babysitter among their friends 2) leave the children at a friend's place or 3) find some friends in the same situation so that dads and moms can see the movie at different shows? Worst case, they can just wait for the tape/VCD/dvd!

Btw, the last mentioned suggestion above is what my wife and I do. In fact, I usually end up going alone since none of my friends here share my enthusiasm for Tamil movies and my wife goes with her cousin, though there have been a couple of movies she had to see on her own too. The only 2 movies we have taken our daughter to have been The Incredibles(which we had to walk out of in 10 minutes anyway since she was scared) and Pooh's Heffalump Movie. I can't think of greater movie buffs than me and my wife and if we can find a way to watch movies without troubling our daughter, I'm sure other parents can too.

So parents... have fun at the movies. Just leave your kids out of it!

22 Comments:

At 1:29 PM, Anonymous ram said...

"Daddy, what is that uncle doing?"

"Papa, Uncle is helping Aunty give you a Thambi Papa!"

 
At 2:00 PM, Anonymous GP said...

Balaji... Amen.. agree with u fully.. even in India, people should do the same..

 
At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Gopi said...

My folks tell me that back in my early days they took me to a movie (in Madurai)..and I promptly embarrassed them by asking them when Silk Smitha would put in her appearance :):)

 
At 2:34 PM, Anonymous GP said...

Gopi.. subconsciously spoilt in the childhood?? :-)

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

I agree... Many of the tamil movies arent really kid friendly. TOo much violence in tamil movies! I freak out when my cousins' kid talk about Gilli and all other vijay movies which are riddled with violence... Ok ok, so basically its almost ALL tamil movies... I"m like "YOUR PARENTS LET YOU WATCH THAT???"

It would be nice if the parents take their kids to watch kiddy movies... I dont know many parents who do that.. Well except for you Bajali :)

DId your daughter watch "Finding nemo"?

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger Rajesh said...

Traditionally in India or sorrounding countries, parents have always taken kids to movies. Basically, the families there still do everything together. It is a reflection of the Indian population's strong obsession with the idea of a close-knit family. My family always took me to movies when I was really young in India. It was and still is to a small extent one of the things for families to do together there.

This practice is actually as incomprehensible for me in the U.S. as it is for you guys. Furthermore, it is not just Tamil movies. I frequently watch Malayalam and Hindi movies here in New York and there are kids always causing a ruckus. Also, while it bothers us, it does not bother these families and others like them. It bothers a very few like us. The only action we can take is to complain to the parents or the theater manager, and neither will do anything to rectify the problem.

Basically, Indian parents do not leave their kids at babysitters because they want to have a full family night out and think it is okay, or because they do not trust the babysitters or even friends. You would think that they have family that they can leave the kids with, but that family might be in the theater with them. Overall, I think that Indian parents feel like they are abandoning their children if they do not take them to the movie.

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

merino, the 2 Vs - violence and vulgarity - make almost all tamil movies unsuitable for kids. The kids watch 'thirupaachi' and then beat someone up at school and the parents ask them why?! can u blame them??!! and seeing kids dance to 'kalyanam thaan kattikitu' or 'malai malai' makes me sick too!

she did see finding nemo but only on video. she is too sensitive and even slight loud noises scare her. thinking about taking her to 'madagascar' this weekend.

rajesh, very nice insights :) the joint family and the concept of a cinema being a family outing(though u never really talk to each other!) r probably the exact reasons for this. its understandable in india where u have so few kid-specific alternatives. but can't use that excuse in the US with so many places and movies aimed at kids right?

my parents were big movie buffs too. infact my mom tells me she watched a movie in the theater the day before i was born(edho saami padam thaan but still!). i dont remember at what age they started taking me to the theater. probably when i was quite young. but one movie i do remember being banned from seeing with them was 'rettai vaal kuruvi' :-)

 
At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, did you say you went to the movie last weekend? Is this IMC6 in San Jose at Sunday 4PM? There's a good chance that I was there at the same show. Because there were kids running around in my show also. But I was turned off by the adult viewers chatting. One moron even started talking on his cell phone.

I had to go to the same movie again to enjoy it. I actually liked it more the second time.
kk

 
At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Balaji-not this author said...

Balaji,

You hit the nail on the head by saying that parents today are becoming mindless of the kids.

Even in Chennai, I find parents being careless abt their kids. For example they walk at the extreme end of the road , while their kids start wandering towards the middle. They do not care to hold their kids in Shopping malls and other busy places.

It needs just common sense and no psychology for any parent to take care of their kids. That way I am proud for the considerate parents that I have got

 
At 9:27 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

I dont remember going ot the theater, but my family said that they took us to watch some hindi movie... But we were such well behaved kids... We cant say the same about the kids nowadays.

Someone said something about doing thing as a family, well there are other things to do as a family than go to a movie riddled with vulgarity and violence.

Anyways, Balaji... Your daughter sounds like my niece... When Monsters Inc came out, I wanted her to see it... So I took her, of course her parents tagged along.. The very next day she ended upw ith a high fever and was rushed to the emergency room. I was hesitant to take her to watch Finding Nemo, but she handled it... I guess the first theater experience was too scary for her.

Now Madgascar, I would love to go see it! With or without her. Do tell me how it is. It looks absolutely adorable.

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger Kaps said...

Sathyam theatre has come up with this nice idea of taking care of kids (for a fee!) when the parents watch the movie. I guess they can do the same way in other places.

 
At 10:54 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

A daycare at the theaters? Interesting =P

 
At 12:24 AM, Blogger Suguna Purushothaman said...

agree with you fully
sometime i get so irritated as i dont enjoy the movie at all but to hear someone crying and the mother will not be bothered but will be busy eating pop corn. its bad man

 
At 8:27 AM, Anonymous GP said...

I think there is a difference between the behavior of kids of this generation and us (man, do i sound do old?) When we were kids, our parents were really strict.. so we would be scared of them and well-behaved.. Also, we are two brothers - so, love, toys, etc. were all shared and we were familiar with the 'concept' of sharing.

Nowadays, most families have a single child.. and the parents want to be 'good buddies' to the child from its young age, so they deal with their kid differently.. No or little concept of sharing.. This leads to a bit more of being of adamant, possessivenes, naughtiness, etc.

How many parents nowadays 'beat' their chidren? It was not the same as our time.. I dont certainly recommend it.. but, I felt that this made the child more obedient.. Parents need to inculcate the habit of 'public behavior' among their children from an early age..

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

Not just "public behavior", but behavior in general. My older one was easier to "train". If we took her to movies (when she was only a handfull literally), she would sleep through. Once she started fidgeting, no more movies. We can't enjoy the experience. The only exception was LOTR. We had to see it.
The younger one is a terror and we don't even take her to kiddie movies. She is a 'type A' personality :-) Can't sit still unless she is working with puzzles.
But it is up to the parents to watch their kids.
Oh Well, I could reams and reams on this. Anyway, I do take my 6 year old to Hindi movies (only) if I know it is going to be PG or PG-13. English and Tamil, we watch at home and censor it for her. Which is not easy with Tamil movies nowadays :-)

 
At 11:38 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, i caught the 7pm show on saturday. but i'm sure this is a common occurrence at all showings!

balaji, don't think i said parents r becoming mindless of their kids! this movie thing was just one thing i noticed.

merino, incredibles was too loud for her. i'm hoping madagascar with its cute animals catches her attention without scaring here. but not sure if i'll check it out this weekend. probably after a couple of weeks when crowds have thinned out.

kaps/merino, yeah that was in sify a while ago. here's my post on that.

gp, added to that is the children learning in school that they can call 911 if their parents hit them! what came about as an answer to dealing with child abuse comes in the way of instilling a little discipline too!

munimma, not sure mine can sit thro a whole movie. she barely lasted the 1 hr of the pooh movie. but she does like rajni uncle :)just curious, what hindi movies

have u taken her too? and how exactly do u 'censor' stuff when watching at home?!

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

All kids seem to like Rajni uncle =P.

New thing now is "Vijay" Uncle.. My cousin's 2 kids are crazy about him... They drive me crazy with the songs... they have it all memorized and blah blah.

Ooops went off on a tangent

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

hmmm... didnt know vijay was that popular with the kids :)

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger bl@her said...

Kids creating a raccus in the theatre is a very secondary issue. We have been in the worst of Chennai theatres, where they take a haarathi for the entry of heros, and run around in trains (even I have been a compartment in it!) If all these didn't disturb us, I don't understand how kids running around would. Just because we are now at the US, are we talking about "decency"? The main issue though is (thanks to Balaji for raising this) the crude exposure that kids get in some Tamil movies. The previos generation (ours) for some reason is obsessed with the opposite sex (no offense), and directors are still making the best out of this weakness. The ratings given by the censor board are absolutely farce. Can you believe "Raam" is rated U? Can it be watched with everybody? For God's sake, an adult like me got shit-scared in the first scene. Leave behind the kids, don't take the honor of spoiling your kid's pure mind by yourself.

 
At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do you think the parents should leave the kids on a Sunday afternoon?

 
At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

for satyam theatres price, they can start a free school for the kids, while we watch the movie..

btw.. who are these honchos doing free advt. in the blog.

balaji, you need to put a lock

 
At 3:46 PM, Anonymous siva, texas said...

I agree. But is there any activies in establishing a rating system for Tamil movies?

 

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