Monday, January 09, 2017

Eye on the Boll(ywood)

So I have one year to get Xena's Hindi school-ready. This is her last year of preschool and because her school only offers Mandarin as a language, I'm homeschooling her in Hindi. At the moment, she's learning to write the letters. She understands me 100% when I speak in Hindi, but to my frustration, her responses are always in English. To that, I simply say that I can't understand her if she answers a Hindi question in English, and she immediately switches. Phew.

But I think we are far away from the prerequisite for taking up Hindi in Primary One next year, which is that the kid must be able to read and write in Hindi. I'd been racking my brain to think of other ways in which I can increase her exposure to Hindi (I really don't want to put her in tuition at this age) when suddenly the proverbial light bulb lit up right above my head. How had I done it?

My dad got posted to Bihar when I was about six and I was flung headfirst into a totally alien, Hindi-speaking world, of which I understood nothing. And even though it was an "English medium school", it was also Bihar, which meant that not only was the Hindi teacher teaching stuff in Hindi, EVERY single teacher was teaching in Hindi, including the English teacher!

I wonder how I survived the first six months, because after that, there was no mai ka lal who could beat me at Hindi. If I could do it, so can Xena. But wait a minute, it was different for me. Hindi was being blasted at me from every direction. My friends at school and in the neighbourhood all spoke Hindi to me, so I had no choice but to bite the bullet. Xena, on the other hand, has only Viv and me as the source of Hindi, and we speak a mix of English, Hindi and Singlish.

So I wondered if it was time for me to introduce Hindi movies to her. She's still not allowed any screen time, and we know that we need to relax the rule at some point to avoid turning it into the highly desirable forbidden fruit. However, we definitely don't want her to watch some nonsensical "kids' channel" for no good reason, so I figured I could maybe watch some good children's Hindi movies with her. After editing out the inappropriate stuff, of course.

And for some reason, the first movie that flashed across my mind was Mr. India. As a kid, I had watched the movie about a bazillion times and loved it each time. Those were the days when we rented the VCR and the video cassette from the shop in order to watch the movies we wanted to watch. I did wonder about the 'Kaate nahin kat-tey' song but the rest of the movie was too entertaining for me to worry about Sridevi gyrating in her blue saree.

But I knew I had to remove the song for Xena. I could totally picture her bewildered look and I even knew exactly what she would say, "Mama, what is this Aunty doing? Is she not feeling well?"

So Xena and I watched the movie together in 15-minute slots over several weekends (and I sneakily fast-forwarded the song without her even realising it). It was heartening to see her enjoy it so much. Once in a while, I'd pause and repeat the dialogues and ask her if she understood them and she did. Every scene that I had laughed my guts out as a kid (the kids waking up to jets of water installed in their bunk beds, Sridevi's Charlie Chaplin act, Bob Christo worshipping the flying Hanuman statue) was making her laugh. It was very touching. Bollywood mommy's Bollywood baby.

Today, her post-school stories included something very interesting.

"Mama, I told Zac about Mr. India!"

Zac is 'da man' of her class. He's the leader, the boss man, the cool dude. Stuff endorsed by Zac is stuff indeed. A few weeks ago, he came up with his own league of superheroes (Xena is Oreo woman; apparently she shoots Oreos out of her wrists at the bad guys. Don't ask.)

So yeah, Zac's approval was important to her.

"You did?"

"Yes, I told him THE WHOLE STORY!"

"Wow. What did he say?"

"He listened to THE WHOLE STORY."

"Did he like it?"

"Yes, he said he liked it very much. But he said he's very confused now."

"Why is he confused? About what?"

"He says he's confused between Magneto and Mogambo. He doesn't know who is who anymore."

That made me laugh out so loud, I think I scared Xena a bit. My successor for my 'Bollywood takes over the world' agenda is on the right path.

Mogambo Mommy khush hui. 


ab said...

Loved this post.
And the fact that you're back to blogging regularly.
And your *innovative* technique for teaching Xena Hindi.
And that Xena isn't allowed screen time.

And Mr. India :)

Arun said...


Google keeps telling me "Why don't you blog in Hindi, you have a potential audience of 500 million people..." :)

You going to try? A kid-enticing blog?

(Obviously, I'm always happy proposing work for somebody else to do. :) :) :) )

transmogrifier said...

Loved this post as well! As soon as you mentioned introducing "hindi movies" to Xena, I hoped it would be Mr India. Definitely a favorite from my childhood as well!