Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kids, Parents and the rest of us

I am addicted to a South Indian television show which is a competition to choose the best singer from amongst kids of age 6 to 14 years.

I rarely get emotionally involved in movies or games or performances. It takes a lot more than mere talent to do that to me. To my amusement,  I find myself smiling wide and laughing and crying and cheering with the Show, the past 8 to 9 months. Why and how? Having successfully  found reasons to postpone work so far, this time I took up this question to muse upon and further procrastinate.

I'm not interested in what the Show highlights - the mind-blowing musical talent and what kids of such a young age are capable of. Of course I have discovered countless songs and added them to my favorites, after hearing the kids render them, which I would have never done otherwise. But that is not reason enough to make me subject to strong states of emotions.

What is it then?--- That makes me glued in front of the screen and madly devour episode after episode, ignoring the countless deadlines at hand.

From singing alone to themselves or to loving parents or in front of an admiring audience at school, these kids are suddenly raised to a tall platform and the eyes of the whole world are upon them. They are judged by great singers. They meet and perform in front of singers who can make the world rise and dance or fall at their feet in a trance. The kids find themselves in a spotlight that would have featured only in the wildest dreams of any human being. That tension is enough to make anyone go speechless, leave alone giving their best performance. Overcome that hurdle and perform, only to find that it is not easy to convince others of your ability. Find yourself staggering under feedback and suggestions to improve from all directions. Discover that whatever you have been doing so far is not so right and needs to be changed and that, in less than a week's time.

Pressure on kids implies pressure of magnitude several times higher, on their parents. Some find it forced upon them, against their will and some take it up willingly and happily for their kids. Some handle the pressure rightly and motivate their kids positively while the others fail to do so, their failure having a direct effect on their kid's performance. Whatever it is, there is no time to regret and go back to correct a mistake. It is a do-or-die. Only the right combination at the right time could crack through the layers of the contest. The others are dropped out and bid a better luck for the next time-- they need to wait longer or forever to get their moment of recognition again ( for opportunity to knock on their door again).

People criticize when you are wrong - to watch how you handle the negative feedback and the embarrassing moments of failure in front of an audience - if you make a comeback or if you wither away. People also wait and watch how you handle the popularity - if it gets to your head or if you take it in your stride and never falter from giving your best. By people I mean not only the judges who do have the constraint of having to judge the kids solely based on their talent, but also the common viewers who vote to choose the winner at the crucial stages of the contest.

Despite all these pressures, it is inspiring to find glorious butterflies emerge from shy, unnoticed caterpillars.

I cheer for the shy kid with the beautiful voice - who in the initial rounds had curving shoulders, the terrified look on her face wishing that she had never come, the downcast look when she kept getting suggestions to improve ,whatever she tried - I find her now, with an amazing voice that commands your attention, she experiments several new genres that need a lot of confidence and in her last performance, she even danced along with the groove of her singing, of course all the shyness coming back to her at the end of the song.

I cheer for the kid who looks simple, down-to-earth and out-of-place on that glamorous stage and setting - he hails from a village and has had no previous training in music - he impresses the judges with his talent and soulful voice, ringing clear - conveying an innocence and the depth of knowledge that no amount of training could have given.

I cheer for the kid with the laryngitis initially - the worst thing to happen to a singer - now taking up highly difficult songs and rendering them perfectly with a voice, brought back to normal after a lot of training and lung exercises.

There are several talented kids who have come out of whatever box they were in, taking the audience by surprise, proving that they deserve the attention, becoming more and more versatile day by day.

I feel sorry for the kids who have enormous talent but yielded to the pressure and failed to make it far in the contest. I wish they find happiness in whatever they choose to do next with their lives.

I cheer for the youngest kid in the show, pressured to excel by his dad. He looks at his dad every now and then during the performance - he looks up to his dad and works hard to please him, rather than trying to please the judges. The kid is a prodigy capable of huge victories, if guided rightly. I hope and pray that his natural talent does not get suppressed by his dad's over-expectations.

And what do I cry for? :-D ---At the look on the parents' faces hearing the praises showered on their kids, not able to believe how their little kid has transformed their lives so drastically, taking them to places, being appreciated by important people, being supported and raised to the skies by unknown people. Priceless! The parents were able to handle all pressures and still motivate their little kid positively and hence they deserve the adulation too, undoubtedly.

The answer to my question... I get emotional because it takes more than mere talent for kids (unlike grown-ups) to attain such huge victories. They depend enormously on family for support and it does enthrall the mind to see a winning combo of a family. Especially when I am so far away from home.... :D There it comes--- the reason behind all my recent posts.