“We have built concrete jungles around us. I remember I used to play vitti dandu when I was a kid which helped kids in building body coordination. Kids these days hardly get a chance to develop their skills as they don’t get to play,” rues Amole Gupte. He goes further, “We have destroyed the childhood of our kids and we only remember them once a year on Children’s Day. If you want to experience actual social life then you should go to slums; those kids actually have empathy towards each other, their doors are open, they play outside, they have friends, they know their neighbours, they know what is happening around them.”
Since kids imitate adults, we are also to blame for not teaching them how to interact with others, Gupte feels. “In modern middle-class families, members barely sit together and have meals. Most are bound in their separate bedrooms, so kids don’t know how to interact with guests or others.
They are cold to others, as they are copying the adults. I had working parents but whenever we had guests at home, I would not only converse with them but also make tea for them at the age of 11. This is how you make a better community.
In the virtual world even if your child will make any friend there is no guarantee that their friendship will last long because their friends will have other virtual friends and all of them will be living in a bubble. Since as a parent you have no time to spend with them, you give them a cell phone but even if the child is willing to speak to the parents they are always busy with their phone. It is a vicious circle.”
The filmmaker also has advice for parents-to-be... “Just because it is a social obligation one should not opt for a child. Only if you are completely prepared and wish to give enough time to your child should you bring them into this world.
When we had our son Partho for two years we managed our work so that we could be around him most of the time. Later I got a job in his school and I could spend a good amount of time with him. I used to cook for him. We had divided our responsibilities as well.
Today he is studying in Los Angeles and I am happy that he has got there on his own. We are proud of the kind of son we have raised today. He has already acted and made films and he conducts himself well, has empathy and has always dealt well with all physical and mental challenges.”
Gupte believes adults are responsible for creating most issues such as less play time outdoors and increased time with devices. “Most of the grounds have been converted into parking areas, so how can we blame our kids for not venturing out to play or not making friends?” And finally, the ‘monster’ called cell phones.
“We greedy adults got this mechanism for our convenience. Now we consider it as a status symbol and flaunt it like our prized possession. Parents don’t think about kids at all, why kids want to play on their mobile phones and have a new one every now and then because their peer group is getting it. In this problem, I think kids are the victim,” he concludes.