“Itni daraawani film hai yeh. Yeh bacchon ki film kaise ho sakti hai?” my father quipped.
“Shhhhh!” I silenced him.
The witch took a pitcher full of blood and started drinking deeply from it.
“Batao! Aisi cheezein dikhaate hain bacchon ki filmon mein?” my father protested again.
“Shhhh!” this time, it was my mom who silenced him.
After all, it’s not everyday that you saw Shabana Azmi tormenting a 12-year-old girl by drinking blood in front of her.
Released almost 15 years ago, Makdee was one of those rare children’s movies that both kids and adults enjoyed for very different reasons. Beneath the casual adventures of a young girl, lay a very subliminal message about greed and superstition which gave the film an almost immediate cult status.
Hence, every time it was aired on Zee Cinema, a viewing was mandatory.
Seriously, there was no escaping random kids singing O papad waale, panga na le.
“Why do you think Bollywood doesn’t make movies for kids anymore?” an interviewer had once asked director Vishal Bhardwaj.
“That’s because we first need to stop thinking of kids as dumb. They’re very intelligent and need to be treated likewise. The content needs to be good,” he replied.
And that’s the reason why, even 15 years after its release, we’re still waiting for another Makdee.
A sad state of affairs considering that this is the same Bollywood that had given us gems like Halo and Rockford in the 90s.
This is the same Bollywood that’d given us Mr. India.
This is the same Bollywood that’d given a children’s film called Chhota Chetan the distinct honour of being India’s first 3D film.
So what happened?
How did we end up from Rockford to Hari Puttar and Abra Ka Dabra?
Perhaps the answer lies within Bhardwaj’s answer. Somewhere down the line, we forgot that not everything is hunky dory in a kid’s world. Engulfed in a myriad of emotions, they have complexities of their own. Hence, an even greater need of a cinema they can identify with.
But alas, Bollywood is too busy pandering to the adults who often accompany them. A PG-13 rated movie is automatically and very conveniently assumed to be a kids’ movie and therefore, children often find themselves watching stuff like Dangal and Dhoom 3.
What Bollywood filmmakers don’t understand is the fact that a good children’s movie doesn’t mean having kiddish dialogues or babyish animations.
It means having a story children associate with and one that reminds the adults accompanying them of the childhood they once had.
There have been pleasant exceptions as well. Take for example Vishal Bhardwaj’s Blue Umbrella and Amole Gupte’s Stanley Ka Dabba. But in an industry that churns out around 800 movies per year, such pleasant deviations have been few and far between.
Definitely a matter of concern considering that 35% of total Indian population is below the age of 15.
Maybe that’s why, we need to take a cue from the 80s and the 90s and treat children as a target audience and not just mindlessly include them in their parents’ idea of entertainment.
Also, we need to stop giving an overdose of niceness in movies meant for kids.
It’s okay to portray a certain degree of evil, it’s okay to portray a certain degree of jealousy and it’s okay to portray a certain degree of anger.
These are basic human emotions and kids are no exception. Projecting a perfect world with measured emotions will provide neither entertainment nor give them a fair idea of the world.
It’s high time Bollywood filmmakers wake up to this realisation. In the meantime, how ’bout a re-run of Halo, Rockford and Makdee?