I went to see the movie rooting for the Pakistani hero Fawad Khan. But found myself relating to the Indian hero, Sadharth Malhotra more. How did that happen?
I was still carrying the bitter taste of another cricket loss by Pakistan from India in my mouth. I had not watched a Bollywood movie in ages, let alone in the cinema. This was an Indian movie, why did I want to support it? I reasoned with myself that I was showing solidarity with the Pakistani hero doing a lead role. Fawad Khan was brilliant (and handsome) like always, but the movie touched a deeper cord in my heart. It reminded me of joy, pain, disappointments and celebrations. It reminded me of family. If you have one or many siblings, you are well aware of the pride and duty in being the first born, trying to make yourself be noticed as the second born or breaking the role you were cast in as the youngest. That’s why I related with Sidharth Malhotra’s character as Arjun, the second born, the child who always fought not to be second best. A first born would relate with Fawad’s character as Rahul, the child desperately wishing to be accepted as he is and not as perfect.
Now that I’m a parent I can’t help but observe the world through those maternal lenses. The movie reminded me of the amazing book “Siblings without Rivalry” and if you watched the movie and thought, “Well, I would hate for our next big family event to end that way…”, time to pick up that book. Just like the movie, the book teaches parents to love children uniquely not equally, never to compare and always to communicate by addressing their feelings.
When a mainstream movie brings forward these lessons, you wish that as a parent you will retain some of them, especially in the heat of the moment when you’re angry and tempted to say: “Tum Falan Jaisay Kion Nahi” (why are you not like him/her), “Pata Nahi Kis Pe Chale Gaye” (Dont know who you take after) and “Us se seekho” (Learn from him/her).
I’m glad I watched the movie. We went as a big group of mommy friends, on a Monday night as a random plan, after feeding our families hurried dinners and leaving the bedtime duty to daddies. The cinema had recliner chairs and the fact that I didn’t go to sleep as a tired mommy after a long day, is on its own a testiment to the quality of the movie. I sneaked in some desi snacks of chilli chips and balochi mewa (dry fruit) mix. As we passed the packets up and down our long row, I rubbed my eyes with the same fingers, that had been fist deep in chilli chips heaven. After being temporarily blinded for 30 secs, I managed to cry out the rest of the chillies from my eyes, because I couldn’t find a single clean tissue paper in all of my six mommy pockets.
This small tragedy aside, I left the cinema with a happy but heavy heart. Happy because life is complicated but so beautiful and heavy because as parents we have a huge responsibility to shape our child’s identity. I hope we all give it our best shot.