My first born survives her first decade of life glued to Disney movies and English sitcoms. As a result, she can tell from the eyes of an actor when he falls in love and the exact meaning of true love’s kiss, but her Hindi grades have plummeted. And so has love for the language. I take it upon my pride and decide to revive my largely abhorred mother tongue language with a zing. I take the road not taken and bring home a new tuition teacher – Bollywood. Fun, entertaining, full of alacrity and most of all, someone that never punishes the kids. I experiment with my little guinea pigs and expose them to a personally curated collection of family movies from the 90s. My only hope is finding a quick fix for failed Hindi conversations.
One night, we start watching Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge. I look at the screen and then at the girls, repeating the sequence as though watching the Wimbledon finals. The minute King Khan enters playing rugby, my eyes light up, while my little wonder is shocked, “Why is he wearing a honeybee costume?”
My nostalgia crashes like glass. A honeybee costume? The 12-year-old is upset too, the actress spends half her time day dreaming. Her only solace lies in the moment of triumph when she has a face-off with the Shah Rukh-Kajol cut out on Mt.Titlis in Switzerland during our next holiday.
“Now we know where this comes from”, she announces with a wink.
My next bait is Hera Pheri. My girls love the slapstick comedy. The older one even enjoys the word play. But the cherry on the cake is the moment of enlightenment that dawns upon the younger one when she watches Oggy in Hindi, “Mom, Shah Rukh Khan speaks in Oggy’s voice! He is such a comical actor”.
Her observations baffle me. The neurons in my brain have transmitted confused stimuli a few times, unlearning and learning new definitions of romance and comedy. There are sparks flying inside my head. All my fond memories of love and happiness have been vanquished. I now equate Shah Rukh Khan to Oggy.
A few more movies and more skewed opinions later, I decide enough damage is done and before these girls confuse their own understanding of various emotions, it’s time to switch back to Disney and accept a ‘H’ in Hindi.
A few days later, as I enter home after my evening stroll, I realise the girls have dared to explore more interesting Hindi lessons. They have started playing Happy New Year, a movie I loathe. To my shock, the girls are glued to the screen. They love all antics on display by the junior Mr.Bachchan and hum to ‘Manwa Lage’. Just when I am about to call it quits and uninstall YouTube, their contagious laughter slows me down. I leave my chores and lounge in their company to figure what gets them cracking.
To my horror, the song I despise the most – ‘Nonsense ki night’ begins playing. That sets my girls rolling with laughter. While I am fuming with rage, they replay the song, at least 3 times. And then I force shut the screen. My mind is now beyond reconciliation and I hate to confess I have made some irreparable damage.
At the dinner table, some new knowledge is up for display. Idioms are popping out of their mouths like popcorn. They are using them in sentences left, right and center. I now have some newly found respect for Farah Khan. Nonsense Ki Night has taught my girls 10 idioms in under 3 minutes. A feat unattained by any Hindi teacher even in 300 minutes.
P.S. All is not lost then. The Bollywood bug has finally bitten my girls. For now, 10 idioms are good enough to survive the next semester. Call it coincidence, but I find this line by Dr.Seuss, our favourite author –
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells”. I take that as a sign; a positive one. Time to enjoy more Bollywood hits with the kids.