When Harry Potter wrote a 29-yr olds’ screenplay

I had a teammate who told me that we live by scripts. Not like the Truman show, but more like little chapters that get ingrained in our minds from our childhood which dictate our behavior & expectations. These are based on experiences, stories we’ve heard at bed time, encounters in our social space, tales that others have told us…all of which has built our life’s screenplay.

I can’t argue that. Because a few years ago when I was making a point on a skin cream brand, I chose to use ‘Snow White & the 7 dwarfs’ as an example to visualize the power of bewitchment. And one woman’s war against the other to be the fairest of them all. It was also to reiterate the way many of the brands’ consumers possibly stereotyped women. They couldn’t be portrayed as getting their dream man, by being a vamp or sexual. After all Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty & Snow White were delicate darlings weren’t they?

A lot of Indian folklore played up some other stories altogether. Amar Chitra Katha, Panchatantra Chacha Chaudhary….had a moral to the story or they got a bit adventurous. Either ways ‘evil’ was to be wiped clean. Values were to be respected. They were full of nice happy, exciting stories with great endings. ‘Happily ever after’, ‘common man’s fight against injustice’, ‘fairytale romance albeit through hardships’…shaped future speak.

While depicting women there were two bright sparks at either ends. It wasn’t that the stories were submissive or playing up compromise as a virtue, as feminine forms were shown through Goddesses like Sita & Durga at two ends.  Or then queens & warriors like Razia Sultan & Rani Laxmibai. It also had Shakuntala, who did the forbidden thing. Love secretly. Men were portrayed as Maryada Purushottam Ram or then to liberalization’s children the sensitive Raj (SRK in most films) or then the god of big/small things i.e. the annihilator of bad starring Rajnikant. I run the risk here of overtly simplifying things, but I am not far from the truth. In a nutshell, adults relished watching their children growing up gradually, till reality came like a flush of energy.

Today screenplays however, sing a different melody altogether. They are not merely created by books & controlled by parents. In fact, they vary depending on the age. There are the 4-8 yr old demanding brats, then the 9-11 yr old tweens, 12-14/15 yr olds waiting to get out schoolers & then the freedom loving college teens with different scripts. Books, internet, television, gaming, buddies to name a few, all play mega influencers.

The growing up happens much faster. Dolls now come in colors in India. Brown, white etc. Dumbledore is gay. Shinchan makes a wisecrack about his parents & is downright rude but funny. A curious mix of doing something you’re proud of & doing things on your terms is getting built in.

Frankly, I wouldn’t for even a moment denounce it. In fact I want to see the upside of it. WHY?

It surely is a dog eat dog world today. Living in fantastical fairy tale worlds for too long is much too weakening. It doesn’t build resilience. Having said that I wonder how romance in dramatic ways as in this video I’ve shared below starts to change emotions with respect to love. Some of the words of a song from a new movie ‘Ready’, starring Salman Khan & Asin go like this…”In 12 months, I will show you love in 12 different ways”. Okay Cinderella move over. You don’t have to wait till 12 midnight anymore. Prince Charming is right here, right now & through 12 months of the year.

‘Dhinka Chika’ from Ready (2011)

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Yes, I agree romance has seen many avatars over the last decade. So maybe there is nothing arrestingly new in this. Then let’s try something else. Take metro/educated India. My niece started blogging at 11. I wasn’t surprised. But what amazed me is her quality of writing. Another young lady at 12 writes deep concepts like existentialism, of course in her own simple way. A friends’ son at 14 (he lives in Geneva) has directed an amateur video on how to cope with a breakup. It got nominated at the Lake Geneva Film Festival.

Closer to Closure (Created for the Geneva Intl School Fest)

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The young guns are getting ready alright. Babyhood & being cocooned till you are ‘grown up’ is rapidly eroding. But it does make sense. When one kid is sharing space with another who seems far ahead of the learning curve, it makes sense to give a free rein to imagination.

“I am smarter than you think” said a 6 year old recently to her Mom. Why? Because her mother was surprised that she recognized brands by their jingles & cars by their logos. It’s ok really. The faster they get smarter, the better their chances of survival. As much as return to innocence is an invaluable emotion, survival of the fittest is the truest reality.

And this is not just a kiddie story. Teens, Adults, Men & women with teenage kids… are all re-writing many scripts. For example look at the evolution of terminologies attributed to women, under the garb of Bollywood superhits.. From some rumblings of dissent at the launch of a song (in the 90s) titled ‘Tu cheez badi hai mast mast’ (a bad translation would be, ‘you are a hot item thats delicious’) to some thing that’s become a rage despite being leaked & that too just 2 days back titled, “Wanna be my chammak challo’ (again a bad translation would be, ‘wanna be my shiny disco balls’)…life’s scriptwriting has come a long way.

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Did I take umbrage to it? No way. To the contrary. I joined scores of others who are simply lovin’ it. It will play in some of the coolest discs & parties and mind you no woman will find it distasteful. After all it’s packaged so well. So cool. So hot.

What stares at us as marketers are these new icons & storytellers who have created new scripts. I have merely skimmed the surface, but it’s the way society evolves. On a positive vein, it is the only way for progress to make its mark. As a young country, the smarter, the more adaptive, the more action oriented the youth of India, the greater the chances of a successful, purposive workforce. Harry Potter & his wizardry may not help here, but his school of above average, street smartness will cut the clutter alright. Instead of fighting it, it’s probably time for us to step back and drive the change.

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1 Comment

  1. Step-back or fight-it may not even be an available option. There is really nothing we can do about it.

    The more the brain is bombarded with inputs to be processed, the more number of brain cells are activated through electrical impulses. More brain cells mean more complicated & quicker processing and analysis of data. Result will be a progressively higher IQ.

    Or so I have read.

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