Why did the scene of a boy running away from his father in Udaan move us ?
I was in my twelfth standard, like the rest of the flock, I was focused on my entrance exams like a horse with blinders, I was always too hard on myself, it was the last mile, the final year, and if I screwed up it would be a downward spiral from then on. But I was sure of one thing, I could focus on my academics only when my friends were around, put me in a competitive atmosphere with too many high performing kids and I tended to slack off.
After a month of beginning my twelfth class, 25 kids from my institution were selected based on 4 tests that we were made to take in that first month and a “Fast Track Batch “ was formed.
I heard kids congratulating me, but I didn’t understand why. As I entered class on the first day, all my nightmares came to life. It was the most dull and boring class. No one was talking to each other on any other topic except for academics and test scores. After one week I planned my first escape from that class. At 5:30 everyday all the regular kids got to go home, the fast track kids however were expected to stay till eight in the night. At 5:25 I threw my bag out of the window, I told one of the Fast Track kids what I was doing , and asked her to let me know if anyone noticed I had escaped. Then slowly I walked out of the class and joined the hordes of regular kids who were heading home. I was pretty thrilled that day, although if I would have got caught it would have been a different story. I managed to convince my parents of how my performance plummeted after joining the Fast Track Batch, my dad agreed, but he insisted I had to talk to my head mistress myself.
The Fast Track Batch was a pet project of my head mistress, so when I told her I wanted to leave, the Head mistress thought I was crazy that I wanted to slip from a “ Fast Track Batch “ to a normal class, just to be with my friends. I remember her saying “ If you listen to me now, your name would be with the toppers in the newspaper” , I remember having a morbid thought at that time of the only way I could make it to a newspaper. But I kept it to myself guessing she was already pissed off with me. She said I would amount to nothing if I chose the easiest path. I wished her and her “ Fast Track Kids “ best of luck and walked out that day
The “ Fast Track Kids” always spoke about tests and scores, I needed an oxygen mask with them, but I entered the normal class and I was off my oxygen support, I could finally breathe. I remember during recess some of the girls were discussing projectile, they would eat a fruit and spit the seed to depict a projectile, one of the best explanations I had seen till date, The class had all sorts of color in terms of people. And the best part it had my childhood friends. And I could happily focus on my academics
I remember meeting a girl who always sat in the last bench . She was always doodling, she never paid attention to any of the classes. I one day asked her to show her doodles, I thought it would be her own name written in 100 different styles ( This was quite popular back then, especially with glitter pens ) What I saw surprised me . It was no normal doodle , it was an elaborate sketch for a dress on a model . She had a whole book of those sketches. She said her father did not like her “wasting time “ at home so she would do it during classes. I remember she didn’t do too well her in entrance exams, she later went on to become a computer science engineer. And then I knew no more fashion designers
In school, I had a tall athletic friend, she was better than all the guys in any sport she played. I was awed by her ability to switch between sports. She was gifted, she could skate with ease, run the fastest and if you had her on your team in throwball/volleyball victory was assured. I remember her dad put her in foundation classes for IIT Coaching, she would bunk those classes and come to my place.I was a kid back then but I knew her talent was rare, having a winning streak in every sport you touched was not just sheer luck. I would know better than anyone, I tried all sports with utmost sincerity and I was painfully bad at all them, although I never gave up and I finally made it to the Extras of my B-School throwball team ( Just because I showed up to practice every day, I don’t think my game improved much ). So I was in awe of my friend’s skill, what mere mortals like me struggled with she could ace it with a smile. So I tried talking to her dad about it, he agreed she had great talent, but academics was always priority. So I saw that friend trying her hand at academics she was never interested in , she became an engineer later. And then I knew no more sportswomen.
I am sure in India we are surrounded by several such stories, our National Level players are cramming up mathematics equations, our award winning fashion designers are doing a titration in a chem lab. Their dreams are in the back-burner, and our country continues to churn engineers who are dead on the inside by the end of the four years.
So when we saw the movie Udaan we all remembered the Roshans in our life, we knew someone or maybe we experienced the phase of giving up dancing, singing, sports to become one of the factory made engineers.
We all saw the Bhairav Singh’s equivalent of a father in the people around us ( Maybe not the abusive part ) but the absolute crusher of dreams, calling everything which was not academics as trivial or a waste of time
They told their kids, the struggles they went through while growing up, how money was hard, how they were not sure of their next meal. So instead of wasting hard earned money on “Hobbies “ we should grow up, get serious and focus on academics, so as the kids grew, the guilt grew and the dreams took a back seat .
And so when I saw Udaan years later it brought back all those memories, it made me remember all those talented people who are in the wrong place right now, not everyone was resilient and fought as Rohan did to get away and chase their dreams at any cost.
So when Rohan broke away from his father and started running , it presented a possibility, a possibility for the singers, the dancers, the runners and the designers to believe that the world around them was trivial and not their art