Movies to Inspire You on National Sports Day!

“Wizard of Hockey” – Dhyan Chand’s Birthday 29th August is celebrated as National Sports Day.  After the Berlin Olympics final game in 1936, a German newspaper described his game as – “The Olympic complex now has a magic show too. Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action” ..’/

Dhyan Chand -wikipedia

It’s a day to encourage our kids to pursue sports. Sports movies can teach us life lessons which are not only important to pursue any sport but are also required to become good headed individuals and citizens. Whether it is rising above adversities and beating the odds, overcoming mindsets or mental blocks, breaking down barriers & biases or sticking together and taking a stand for what you believe in. For the last bit , ‘Remember the Titans’ is one such fine example, the movie is about players and coaches who must rise above racial prejudice and win games.

Sports is a good way to reduce screen-time and develop locomotor skills.

I was tallying the number of good movies that Indian animation factory has spun out, to my dismay it’s as good as nothing. When the industry will look beyond just numbers and work with good intention to create something meaningful for kids is something that is yet to be seen. Indian cartoons lag far behind what Disney & Pixar have already made.

In the animation arena, a single production by the name of Howzzatt  stands in the sports category, although, I must tell you — its genre can hardly be categorised as sport. The story is about Gulab Nagar Junglees – a bunch of youngsters, who under the coaching and guidance of Sweety Aunty, hone their cricket skills and go against a bunch of big bad bullies, who would play the game but never by the rules. I reserve my ratings on this — this could have been made much better, overall it failed to paddle across the values of sports and inspire the tiny lot to pursue games.

There is no dearth of sports movies but there is a yawning gap when it comes to the animations genre. ‘Chak De! IndiaBhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal, Sultan and Mary Kom are quick to recall. But none so far, about the legend on whose birthday National Sports day is celebrated. Heard there is one in the making.

We celebrate laurels that our sports heroes & sheroes bring home but we rarely put them before the tiny tots as examples to follow. We have exemplary lives of Indian sportsmen which can be sketched, computer embedded and moved fast across the rolls.

For our kids, we need good home grown stuff that instils sportsmanship at an early age. Sports teach important lessons like being healthy is important but what our toons sadly promote is:  “Bina samosa khaaye dimaagh ki batti nahi jalti’” (Motu in Chota Bheem) and Chota Bheem himself, youngsters’ favourite protagonist, who guzzles laddoos and tons of sugar with them. We need some hero who can promote healthy eating habits like Popeye who gulps down iron-vitamin rich spinach and beats the shit out!

Here is my list of sports movies that you may like to watch with your kids on this National Sports Day.

·       Iqbal – A boy hard of hearing and without speech, dreams of playing in the Indian cricket team. With perseverance and patience he achieves his dream.

·       The Bad News Bears – A story of no-hope little league which in the end teaches a very important message: trying is all that matters.

·       The Sandlot – Scotty, a young boy joins the local baseball team where he experiences a series of adventures that he never imagined.

·       The Karate Kid – The story of 12-year-old Dre Parker when he moves to a new place with his mother and his struggles to fit in, and standing upto bullies.

·       Cars – About famous race car Lightning McQueen and his team who are invited to compete in the World Grand Prix race. Awesome animated sports movie that emphasizes on importance of friendship and family.

·       Ice Castles – About a girl who wants to be world skating champion but meets with an accident. Wonderful story of rising above the odds.

·       Little Giants – Father makes a football team with his daughter and other outcast kids to put a challenge to his own son.

Play and stay healthy!

A conversation on friendship with my 5 year old daughter

bambi and thumper.png

It’s easier to talk to children above ten about complex things like relationships. (Maybe I am oversimplifying the problem). But when it comes to the audience whose understanding is limited to ‘sharing is the way of caring baba, baba black sheep’ it’s difficult to present something complex in a simple way.

Though Khalil Jibran has explicitly put everything that friendship is in these lines:

 Your friend is your needs answered.

He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

And he is your board and your fireside.

For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind, you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”

 The problem was how to talk about this to my little 5 year old. There were many helpful parenting sites that talked about the clinical aspects of making friends or being one. I was looking for something more. I was looking to touch the root of the concept, to talk a bit of philosophy with my bitsy baby.

Let me tell you the background of what prompted me to take up this topic with her. After we shifted to a new country, I had a daunting task at hand. There was a park nearby our apartment. I and my daughter would stroll down there in the evenings. The task was to find a friend to play. A few initial visits were stressful for me, she played swings and slides with her roving eyes looking for a pal amidst her unanswered smiles and waves. My little one was disappointed but not disheartened.

One day she took her new bicycle to the park and there was a girl of her age who came to play with her. They both rode the bicycle by turns. I was also relieved that she finally had a companion. The next day she went without her bicycle. She looked for her friend everywhere. Finally, she saw her playing with a group of children. She waved to her and went near them expecting that she would be invited to play. But nothing like that happened. The bicycle friend turned out to be an opportunist.

That day my little brave heart was heartbroken. She came running towards me and she plonked her head in my lap and cried. We returned home.

She was yet to start her new school. Her mom, dad and a few stuffed bunnies and bears were her only acquaintances in the new land. I wanted to talk to her about what had happened in the park but I kept it to myself. Though she was back to her normal self but it was evident that she was hurt. It was the next day at bed time when I groped a chance to begin the conversation on Friendship and making friends.

I chose to read ‘The Stinky Little Kitten’  — Jim Peterson, a story about a friendly kitten who is refused help by all the farm animals when she jumps over onions and starts stinking. A piglet, whom she had always avoided, is the only animal which comes to her help to clean herself. When the stinky little kitten is washed and cleaned, she runs up to her mother, nonplussed as to why none of the animals whom she thought were her friends, helped her. To this, the smart mommy cat says:

“It’s not always that you choose your friends. Sometimes the friends choose you.”

 The end of the story brought a smile on my kitten’s face. I smiled back.

Me: “What do you think of the story?”

She :“I liked it.”

Me: “What did you like in it?”

She: “The stinky little kitten found her friend at last.”

Me: “Ummm okay but what made her think that the piglet was her friend?”

She: “Because he helped her.”

Me: “Yes dear helping is friendship, but it’s not just helping that makes good friends.

She: “Aunty (maid) helps you too.”

Me: (laughing) “I pay her. Helping is in return of something.”

She: “I know mama friends share things.”

Me: “Hmm okay you shared your bicycle with that park friend.”

She: (frowning) “Hmmm I was friend, she was not friend.”

Me: “Yeah okay tell me which cartoon friends you like the most.”

(Thinks for a moment)

She: “Yes I like Bambi and Thumper”

Me: “They are my favourite too. Why are they your favourite?”

She: “Umm Thumper and Bambi have lots of fun together.”

Me: “Yes they do, indeed.”

She: “Why do you like them?”

Me: “I like them because they are different yet they understand each other, try to improve each other. Remember how Thumper teaches Bambi to ski on ice.”

She: (giggling) “Yes I remember.”

Me: “So a friend is someone who has all these traits. Somebody who shares toys but doesn’t help is not a friend. Somebody who helps but does not understand you is not a friend.”

She: “You are my best friend.”

Me: “Yes, I am dear and will always remain your friend. When you will start your new school, when you will attend your music or craft classes, when you will grow up, you will find such a friend who will be polite, helpful, understanding and who will like the things you like, who will not come to you because you have a special toy or a new bicycle. That friend will befriend you for who you are.”

 A bright, bright smile spread across her face that brightened my heart too. I switched off the side lamp. While sleep was slowly pulling my eye lashes down this quotation by Gloria Naylor was running through my mind, “We cannot tell the exact moment a friendship is formed; as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the heart run over.