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By our Special Correspondent, Priya Chandran
November 11, 2007
How many times have you heard a bawling baby or a screaming toddler in a movie theatre and wondered what in the world they are doing there? They are with their parents, watching a movie, to which they cannot relate to at any level. To a young child the supposedly “entertaining experience” of watching a film on silver screen, ends up being a very traumatic one, keeping in mind the extreme movies spawned these days.

Most parents, now-a-days do not exert any discretion, when it comes to the kind of movies they allow their children to watch, be it at home or in a theatre. Any film they decide to watch, the child watches too, no holds barred. Even when they figure out during the course of the film, that it is not kid-friendly in any way, they callously continue to sit through the remainder of the film, oblivious to the terrified young child beside them. Some parents use the timeless ploy of asking the child to close his eyes, the moment an inappropriate scene comes on, or one of the parents rushes outside with the screaming child. This leaves the child more petrified and bewildered than ever. Do we really need to make the movie -going experience so complicated, for both ourselves and our children? Is there a simpler, sensible way out of this situation?

The Censor Board of India certifies films (made in India and those made outside of India and released in India, either dubbed or in its original form) with a U (universal), UA (Universal adult, inappropriate for children under 12), A (adult) or an S rating (special-a very rare category).There have been several allegations against the Censor Board stating that their rating system is erratic and inconsistent. To make matters worse, most theatres in India and theatres screening Indian movies outside of India are very lenient when it comes to enforcing rules and guidelines for children accompanying their parents to movies. Nuclear families, on the other hand make best use of this situation and let their children tag along as a matter of convenience as they cannot leave their child alone at home or do not have any reliable source of childcare.


Some parents feel that babies under a year of age are too young to even remotely understand the content of the film, so no harm done there. The Dolby and the other fashionable surround sound gizmos in theatres and multiplexes today are extremely loud and can cause serious injury and damage to a baby’s delicate and developing eardrum. Children from ages 3-8 could get nightmares for days and weeks together after watching a disturbing film. It could be excessive violence, blood, or graphic scenes which can haunt a child’s psyche, robbing them of sleep and leading to fear and anxiety. Parents of older children (7-15yrs) can elucidate the reasons as to why they cannot watch a certain film. Banning them from watching a film either at home or in a theater, without explanation will leave the child in a state of irresistible curiosity and they will find ways to sneak out and watch the film without their parents’ knowledge.

If you want to take your kids along and experience the magic of the big screen, go for a fun family film. There is no dearth of animated and cartoons films, from Disney Pixar and other Hollywood production houses which are released in India as well. Many of them are dubbed into regional languages too. Be well informed, do some research, and educate yourself before subjecting your child to something you might regret later. Read reviews and ask friends who have seen the film and then decide whether it is appropriate for your child. But do not always trust other sources. YOU be the final judge of what you allow your child to watch, because no one knows your child better than you.

We most certainly need more of mainstream children’s cinema in Tamil and other southern languages. There are hardly any films made to cater to a younger audience. Recently, there have been many animated children’s films made in North India like “My friend Ganesha”, “Hanuman”, “Krishna” etc. which have done very well all over India. Many popular actors have a lot of fans in children and young adults. But unfortunately their films are sometimes laced with ample violence and vulgarity which is not suitable for children. Film-makers on their part can keep the films that feature these popular heroes clean and wholesome so that kids can enjoy them as well, though this definitely seems a challenging proposition for commercial cinema.

It is true that we cannot protect and shield our children forever from the harsh realities of everyday life. But until they are old enough to receive this information responsibly and process it wisely and accurately, they should be fiercely guarded and protected. Children are children only for a very short span of time, after which they become mundane adults like all of us. So let them be, as nature intended them to be- vibrant, innocent, simple and transparent. We owe it to them.

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