Respectful Bollywood


Since the time I reviewed the songs of Dum Lagake Haisha (2015), something had been niggling at my inside. In one scene, the heroine is made fun of by her own younger brother that she looks like a bull in front of their parents and the parents do not do anything about it. Disrespect to elders is also a regular feature of advertisements today. If this disrespectful behavior of children is not controlled today, it can have severe repercussions for the parents, themselves; sooner or later. Thus, I decided to take up this subject for today.

I contacted Dr. Sumit Gupta, Sr. Consultant Psychiatrist, Max Multi-Speciality Center, Pitampura, Delhi and asked him about inculcating the quality of respecting the elders, in children. This is what he had to say:

Children keenly watch the behavior of others around them and learn that behavior in the context of actual or perceived consequences. Any behavior that is perceived to be acceptable to others and/or successful in meeting any objective is more likely to be emulated.

The display of misbehavior towards elderly in movies is more likely to be emulated by children, if it is done by a “Hero” or a “Lead role” or a “Successful person”, and is less likely to be emulated if it is done by a “Villain” or if it results in “Punishment or any negative consequences”.

There is no lower age cut-off for children to be taught about respecting elders. Even toddlers can distinguish between the facial expressions of parents signaling ‘social approval’ or signaling ‘disapproval’ for their acts. Many times, a toddler slapping or pinching an elder is taken as a playful act and with the response of laughing which signals to the young mind that such an act is socially acceptable.

This can lead to dangerous consequences later on in life. A correct response should be to just signal disapproval by saying “no” and by a correct facial expression of disapproval.

A very important aspect is that children consider the parents’ behavior as the ‘ideal behavior’ and are more likely to copy that than anything else. They are more likely to be guided by actually witnessed behavior pattern rather than by what is verbally told as to be right or wrong. Hence, parents should do exactly what they expect from their children.

A few points that can make a lot of difference are:

  • Always observe basic courtesies while dealing with children. Do not hesitate to say “sorry” to your child if you have accidentally hurt him/her. This helps the child identify ‘wrong’ behavior.
  • Similarly, a behavior that is followed by ‘thank you’ is regarded as a ‘right’ behavior by the child. Do not be rash towards anyone including your subordinates. Children are aware of ‘power hierarchy’ and learn to exploit those who appear to be in ‘a weak position’ by witnessing this.
  • Teach children to be respectful of elders by being respectful of your own elders in front of them. Avoid criticizing your elders in front of children.

Bollywood and Respect: Here are some of my favorite songs on respecting others. I have been trying to find one song of Mohammad Rafi paying tribute to K L Saigal. I don’t remember the exact lines. I did not get it online. I would appreciate it if someone helps me with that.

Dedi hamein aazadi… Jagriti (1951) Respect toward the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Bande mein tha dam… Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) Respect toward the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Na fankar tujhsa… Kroadh (1990) Song dedicated to Mohammad Rafi Sahab by Mohammad Aziz.

Usko nahin dekha humne kabhi… Daadi Maa (1966) Respect for mother.

Jab tak ke hai aakash pe chand aur sitare… Aap Ki Parchayiyan (1964) Respect for parents.

Saare zamane se… Aap Aaye Bahar Aayi (1971) Respect for one’s beloved.


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