Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rated R for content

One of the biggest worries I had about watching TV as a child was the sudden, unexpected, never-discussed, so-called taboo things that would pop up and be the cause of much embarrassment to myself as well as my parents. You know what I'm talking about. Those ubiquitous ads on condoms and birth control pills and sanitary napkins that we all knew existed but would refrain from making it a topic of discussion at the dinner table. The things that would make me turn red in the face and wish I could be in another room instantly. And may be my parents felt the same way but we'd all sit there staring at the TV screen and pretending it was just another ad for light bulbs or Titan watches. And then once it was over everyone would start talking about something totally irrelevant.

And the way we would react was partly determined by the stage in our life when we were exposed to these things. For example there is the not-knowing-anything-innocent-kid stage. Like my cousin who at the age of 7 took a particular fancy to the jingle of a Mala-D advertisement, that required exercising a totalitarian sisterly rule to keep him from constantly breaking out into Zara si sabdhani zindagi bhar aasani. That was followed by the not-so-sure-but-bet-it's-naughty stage, where one had the strongest desire to probe and ask questions but knew better than ask the parents. Which meant a lot of speculations and discussions in school about certain ads that one wasn't really sure of. And that of course provided the basis for a whole bunch of secrets that we were willing to carry to our graves than ask the parents for a clearer picture. And then just like that we knew. About puberty, boys and yes, sex. And suddenly everything made sense. And thus provided new room for embarrassment. Because now not only did you know what the ads were trying to tell you, everyone in the room knew that you knew. And that led to a lot of delicate moments while watching the Saturday night movie on Doordarshan.

And the same went for movies. Well when we were kids it was restricted to the ones from Hollywood. I would dread the moment when the hero would start kissing the heroine. Because we all knew what would happen next. The couple would end up in bed. So first there was the stage when even a kiss could cause mild discomfiture. And that also included the old classic kiss, the hard and long smack on the lips, no groping or tongue action kind. But those were the really old movies and the hero and heroine would continue their activities someplace other than in front of the camera and would not cause too much of a problem for me. But then the stars started getting bolder. And the kisses started getting more explorative. And they'd always show the couple between the sheets the next morning. And sometimes also show a little skin. Now that is what we started calling the "love scene" or "bed scene". And boy did that cause problems. For the kids, as well as the parents. As we all pretended that we did not notice or realize what was happening. So I tried my utmost to stay away from watching a Hollywood movie with the family. Just to be on the safe side. Hindi movies were fine. Because the most anyone would do was run around trees and sing and dance and maybe hold hands. Until that changed too. The heroines started getting bolder, the hero did not think twice about grabbing and kissing the heroine in full view of the camera and then horror of horrors they even put in "bed scenes". So it was curtains for watching movies with the family. Any movie!

So was I glad when I moved out of parental control. I can watch anything I want. Any movie. As much TV as I want. Without the squirming and discomfort and the fear of being embarrassed. And that feels great. However I still have to be a little careful about picking movies when the folks come visiting. Because although the ratings on the movie are for people to decide whether their kids can watch a particular movie, for me it is the decision of whether my parents are allowed to watch the movie with me.

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43 Comments:

Blogger Seashells said...

hehehehe... reminds me of kissing tulips and sunflowers in Indian movies... and if the director is really good, and i mean really really good, then there are parrots or mynas beaking... LOL.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Dreamcatcher said...

You've hit the nail on the head. Usually everyone just maintains a silence, I almost always look away.But I think its much better now. I am sure they are sure that I know. I saw Titanic with my parents and was in class 8 or so and it was quite, quite traumatic..

1:40 PM  
Blogger Jinguchakka said...

LOL.
You've captured exactly what happens while we grow up. Couldn't stop smiling through the post.
You've ended it beutifully, too.

I wish someone write about this thing from the parent's point of view, like how they dealt with when their offspring were kids, then when they were adoloscents, etc....

:-)

1:43 PM  
Blogger Anyesha said...

That stupid Nirodh condom ad totally spoiled it for us. Raj Kapoor's "pyar hua ekraar hua" was never the same again. And yes, we too had to stop a whole gaggle of baby cousins from dancing to "Bol sakhi bol" from the Mala D ad at a wedding.
Btw, isn't the whole squirming in front of the telly a thing of the past when there was only one channel? Now parents with young kids have awesome reflexes and at the first hint of something not so PG-13 they change channels.

1:51 PM  
Blogger GREATBONG said...

Now you have jogged my memories and I am tempted to write a post inspired by this.

Excellent post dear M.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Cacophoenix said...

LOL, My parents and I devised a way of avoiding embarrassment when I was in the I know, You know, we all pretend no one knows stage. whenever a scene come we would yell Eeeekkk!! or Ewww!! and laugh uncomfortably. The mor ehte number of english movies, the more you got used to these things. So by the time I was in college. It was Yawn!! But I do get what you are telling though.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Sandeepa said...

This is so true and the last bit. Even at this age with a daughter of my one, I am careful about picking movies when the parents are visiting. Of course Hindi movies are now taken at their face value and can be watched with anyone and everyone but for a movie like say "Antarmahal" I would think twice.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Kausum said...

I think, when the Stayfree ad "Chup Chup baithe ho zaroor koi baat hai" was aired, I was so confused with what the product does, I infact asked my parents what is the product and how are sanitary napkins different from ordinary napkins .. to see them red faced and struggling with a reply :)

11:47 PM  
Blogger Terri said...

The tables will be turned once you have children ;) And try watching a sex scene with your kids and your parents, or worse, the in-laws, in the same room ... you'll wish the floor opened up and swallowed you.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Oh god! This brings back terribly embarrassing memories of watching Damini with my parents and uncle and aunt and 8 year old cousin...who kept up a constant stream of questions "What are they doing to her?" "Why are they on top of her?" "Are they killing her?" "But then why isnt she dying quickly?" and then later "Why is she bleeding?" "Where is she bleeding from?" and so on and so forth. How I wished the earth would open up and swallow me!!!!!im pretty sure everybody else in the room except this child felt the same way.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Just Mohit said...

You reminded me of a story i read in Readers' Digest a long while ago:
When we were younger, and a "hot" scene came in the middle of a tv programme, my mom would drop a coin and ask us all to look for it. Years later, my mom came to visit my brother at his house, and they all sat down to watch tv. After a while, the hero started kissing the heroine. My bro dropped a $1 note and with a twinkle in his eyes, said "Mom, would you get that for me please?"

4:05 AM  
Blogger Chilla-Bong said...

M,great post.Reminds me of the awkward moments my parents must've had with their ever inquisitive child.And see Chilla is not the only one to draw inspirition from your post...even the GreatBong is inspired by you.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Priya said...

Wonderfully said. My G just loves watching ads and I notice, off late, she's especially drawn to the tunes of the XXX condoms ad jingle that comes during the Champions Trophy cricket telecast breaks!! Maybe I'll take up jhingkuchaka's idea and post from parent's perspective, soon ;)

4:39 AM  
Blogger shruti said...

remembered the embarassment we felt at the time when such ads came on TV..
my brother always asked what is and my mom always made a excuses ..

7:53 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ seashells and what about the couple embracing in bed and the next thing you know the camera is focusing on the whirling ceiling fan :))
@ dc yes it gets better with time. I'm not so uncomfortable watching things with my parents as i am when watching it with my in laws :)
@ jinguchakka thank you :) well with so many bloggers with little kids may be someone will actually do a post on that and we'll know how our parents felt :)
@ anyesha the switching of channels i think makes it worse. esp when you are in the I know you know stage. Its like okay we all know what they're doing on that channel so lets watch some cook show instead. One of my uncles used to send the kids out of the room saying "eta boroder jinish hochhe, tomra pasher ghore jao". That was hilarious!
@ greatbong well I am honored if something I write can inspire you :) And thanks for stopping by!
@ cacophoenix that must have been funny. Well i don't mind the parents as much as I am bothered by having the in laws around while watching something that is a bit uncomfortable.
@ sandeepa may be you can write how it feels to be a parent when watching movies with your kids. The thing is even though hindi movies are taken at face value I still have trouble watching Abhisekh bachan trying to have sex with rani Mukherjee on screen while my in laws are watching it with me.
@ kausum we all have these embarrassing tales from our childhood. I was always told "ogulo boroder jinish. boro hole bujhbe" and couldn't wait to grow up to understand what it was all about.
@ terri LOL. With my in laws visiting I've had several of those moments recently which is what made me write this post :))
@ ron It must have been just as hard for the grown ups to provide a plausible answer to all the queries.
@ mohit oh that is just fabulous. Loved it. may be I'll try something like that on my family :))
@ chillabong yeah, makes me walk taller now :))
@ priya there is always something terribly catchy about those jingles that grabs little children it seems. Do write up that post. Will be fun to get the other side of the story.
@ shruti and we never realized how hard it is on the grown ups :))

8:27 AM  
Blogger Rohini said...

I wonder if this embarassment of sanitary napkins is just an Indian thing or a global phenomena.

Here, even in the stores, they put them in the glass cabinet below the counter so that women can indicate by pointing rather than utter those shocking words "Bhaiyya, Stayfree dena" and then when you buy, they will either wrap the offending package in newspaper or put it in a specially resevred opaque black plastic packet so that no one can make out what you bought... I mean come on, women menstruate - deal with it!

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

M, the more I read you, the more interesting I find you. I would like to meet you.

An admirer

9:20 AM  
Blogger Sandeepa said...

M, my daughter is too small and is happy with her daily dose of Barney & Sesame Street. However I had an enlightening experience watching a Hrithik Roshan starrer with my friend's daughter who being a ardent HR fan was very worried as to when HR & Amisha would get to marry in the movie :) To instill my idea of gyan, I told her they can only if both Mamma & Daddy agree and I tell you she was not at all happy :)
Today's kids...

9:50 AM  
Blogger Sanjay said...

I hear ya on this one. I remember bringing up the whole sex issue with my dad, esp the changes in my body. He was very nice about it, gave me a brief explanation and said I could always talk our family doc about the biological basis of things. So off I went to the family doc. I think no one had ever asked him that kind of Qs (the doc that is).
It's good to be on our own I guess and hopefully we can deal with these issues differently when we take the place of parents.

12:18 PM  
Blogger vuttaa said...

huh! u talk about embarassing ads! during my hostel life, a certain sports movie was once stopped and abandoned in front of a packed auditorium, leaving us in a perfect KLPD scenario :) why? only because those sply appointed, somewhat-inSensitive editors forgot to cut a pre-bed, 'hand-holding' scene from the movie (i am sure the bed scene was butchered though)! i wonder if those self-styled dictators (who sprang up from the seat screaming bondho koro, bondho koro, and almost dived over the projector to block the lens) believed that they had fell from the kingdom of heaven on their mothers' lap. LOL.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Shankari said...

OMG, I used to sing that Mala D jingle and my older sisters used to get real irritated about it, but what did I know

6:52 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

m-i-l visiting, and i had to go off for a couple of hours. babysat her with "when harry met sally". returned just as the film ended. she said she liked it :-)

2:48 AM  
Blogger Grafxgurl said...

HEYY M!!! me is back..

lol.. yeah and there;s a new ad out for tshirt bra's now... " so that nothing shows through"

and the girl takes of her shirt to reveal the bra in full view.. hehhehee... and all my uncles and auntys were sitting in THAT room at THAT very moment.. HAHAHAHHHAAHA ( imploding noise)

8:58 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ rohini LOL....I hear what you're saying.
@ anon leaving a name here might be a start.
@ sandeepa...the kids today seem way more mature than we had been :)
@ sanjay the birds and the bees huh? :))
@ vuttaa I can well imagine the uproar :)
@ shankari :) it was kinda catchy wasn't it? Do you think they do that on purpose to grab your attention?
@ t.r. :) don't envy you. My in laws just watched KANK with me and are still complaining about how bad the movie was :))
@ grafxgurl you're back!!! yay! Where are you now? Good to see you and hope you've been well.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Adopted Bong said...

I have 2 boys aged 13 and 11, it still has'nt got any easier. My wife pretends to ignore it when things like that come on the tube, while i adopt the more direct approach and talk about it. Some months ago we were in Cancun and there were a couple of topless women by the hotel pool. The wife at one point was trying to wrap my younger son's head in a beach towel, while I made some kind of flippant remark to my older son. There's an analogy in there somewhere...

12:51 AM  
Blogger sd said...

Hello,

I came here from Sagnik's Blog. Really nice post.

1:30 AM  
Blogger Born a Libran said...

Great post... My experiences have been pretty similar except that our family's way of reacting was to totally leave the room and do irrevelent stuff... So I will go and drink water even if I had drank water 5 minutes before and my brother would go get a book or some permutation/combination of such mundane stuff so that the scene would end :)

5:11 PM  
Blogger Born a Libran said...

Great post... My experiences have been pretty similar except that our family's way of reacting was to totally leave the room and do irrevelent stuff... So I will go and drink water even if I had drank water 5 minutes before and my brother would go get a book or some permutation/combination of such mundane stuff so that the scene would end :)

5:11 PM  
Blogger Aparna said...

Oh my god, yes, that's what happened to me too...and now am so relaxed, out of 'parental control'...that sometimes it takes supreme effort to know when to change the channel when my parents come visiting.

12:55 AM  
Blogger eXPerience called L!FE said...

M, do they show Mala-D ads in US? I wonder where did you get the inspiration for writing this post :). I am definitely posting on this topic. Good one again.

6:22 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ adopted bong well i guess it is just as embarrassing for the kids as it it is for the parents to deal with things like that :))
@sd well thank you!
@ born a libran LOL we find innovative ways for sure!
@ aparna well it is easier if you're just watching TV and can flip channels. But wehn watching a movie it becomes so obvious. I always fwd the songs because they are the ones where the actor and actress enact such desires that cannot be deemed PG-13 :)But in the middle of a serious scene when they start doing 'things' it seems really weird to pick up the remote and say lets see what happens in the next scene instead.
@ shashaank no, no Mala D ads here :) But this post came after trying to watch a recent hindi movie with the in laws :))brought back memories I guess.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Pallavi said...

I remember there was an ad for "only me" or something. It was hilarious n awkward at the same time since they jus show a couple n nothing explicit but gross moaning noise..good post!

1:17 PM  
Blogger Mike Todd said...

Thanks for the excellent, funny post! I remember asking my mom what itch Anusol was supposed to cure. They never said it on the commercials. I suppose the first four letters should have been a hint.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Point 5 said...

...and with Bollywood becoming so bold, I still feel uncomfortable when I go back to India and watch stuff on TV

1:46 AM  
Blogger sapna said...

how very familiar all this!!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Ekta said...

hey M...so agree with u..even today I feel embarassed watching one of those scenes with my parents...guess somethings never change!!

3:10 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ pallavi :)) don't remember that one but can guess what it was for.
@ mike well somethings are plain to see :))
@ point 5 so you know what I'm talking about. It is such a pain.
@ pearl hey good to see you after all this time. Hope you're doing okay.
@ ekta they never change :))

8:46 AM  
Blogger Kele Panchu said...

Excellent post. Ektu kaaj er chaap cholchhe, koyekdin por likhbo. :)

2:26 PM  
Blogger Sai said...

Lol....your post brought back memories of my childhood. I remember the Mala-D ad. There was this one other ad for Carefree Sanitary napkins, "Feeling so good....feeling so free....feeling alive and carefree." That was a catchy jingle and it might have stuck in the mind of one of my classmates (boy). Once my friend and I caught him singing that and we were so livid. We totally thought he was a "mawali" (ruffian). We were all awkward 15 year olds at that time!

12:16 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ kele panchu it has been a while :)
@ sai thanks for stopping by. And yes we can look back on those days now and smile :)

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

piste , the "sawdhaani" jingle was for Nirodh and not Mala D .... coz i was also one of "those" kids who used to break out into the jingle at arbit times ....

1:19 PM  
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3:37 PM  

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