Finally saw OMG 2. The hype around it kind of piqued my interest. Not much into movies for various reasons, but I couldn’t help getting curious when I heard the subject matter. Wow! It’s not every day that we get a movie that touches such a sensitive issue like sex education, and it gets such overwhelming acceptance from the public (no, I’m not talking about the box office collections)! The movie has left me agitated, or is it rattled? Three cheers to the team for deftly handling the issue and bringing to focus an oft-ignored subject. So here are my thoughts on it.
The story of OMG-2
In short, the story of OMG 2 is about a father, Kanti played convincingly by Pankaj Tripathi, who decides to fight for justice for his son who was filmed masturbating in the school washroom. The school rusticates him, the society ostracises the family, and the police humiliates him. He decides to fight for justice when he’s deftly guided by Mahadev, another name for Lord Shiva, the Hindu god. The rest of the movie is about Kanti struggling and fumbling through the legal maze and emerging victorious. That’s pretty much the story. Impressive! But what’s more impressive is the presentation, the sensitive handling of such a sensitive issue using a generous sprinkling of humour intelligently, and without reducing it to mockery or ridicule.
- Starring – Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi, Yami Gautam
- Director – Amit Rai
- Producers – Vipul D Shah, Rajesh Behl, Ashwin Varde
- Distibuted by – Viacom 18 Studios
It’s about Vivek, the son, and the video. But what led to Vivek taking such desperate steps? The first issue touched upon is the growing toxic culture of bullying and misplaced masculinity in schools among young adults. The rush of testosterone does more than just usher in adulthood in the boys; it seriously muddles up their sense of worth. Each one is out to prove how much of a man he is by flexing his developing muscles or flaunting a girlfriend.
To become a victim of everyone’s ridicule, especially at school, can unsettle the already sensitive ego of the young man-boy, standing unsure at the threshold of adulthood. The boy who took the video wanted to prove his ‘manliness’ by targeting Vivek. But what we can’t ignore is the underconfidence and insecurity that the other boy, the perpetrator, was undergoing, well-hidden under the veneer of machoism. No one is safe from it. It’s all about how well they manage to hide it – acting either as the bully or the bullied.
The next issue is how society dwells on exploiting the fears of the people – whatever they are, be it God or social rejection or virility. The quack or the faux-doctor or the medical shop owner, each one had their own way of feeding off the fear in the people. And this is what they are able to do with no compunction because of the ignorance in the people. But how do you teach those with a closed mind, following their beliefs blindly?
The movie showed how while the men obsess with their genitals and their size affirming their masculinity, the women use social boycotts and moral high ground to hurt the family, destroying their dignity and self-worth, making them social pariahs. If it’s not ignorance then how else can you explain it? Ironically, the whole setting is in a small town with its own resident God, Bhagwaan Mahakaal. No God preaches inequality or blind faith. But that’s what exactly happens.
Time to address the need for sex-ed
The bigger issue or the root of all this chaos is sex education or the lack of it. Kanti’s case is based on just one point – if sex education had been a subject at school, his son wouldn’t have committed the “crime” of masturbating. All he wanted was the school, and the others, to apologize and allow his son to resume his studies. Not much of a demand, right? No, says the defence counsel, played perfectly by Yami Gautam. What follows is a series of hilarious yet grave discussions about the taboo subject. The well-thought-out arguments and justifications will convince even the most reluctant advocate of sex education to agree.
Kanti is a simple, God-fearing family man. Mahadev, played by Akshay Kumar (a Bollywood actor who has acted in a few other movies about relevant social issues), appears when he seeks His help to deal with the crisis in his life. And He helps him in the best way – by pointing him towards the right path, letting him fight his battles, and most importantly, by allowing him to seek the knowledge, instead of serving him the victory on a platter (would’ve been too cliched). God helps those who help themselves, a perfect example. True that. Kanti reads up book after book on religion, ancient scriptures, history and law. His research brings out the glaring gaps in not just the education system but also the laws, the misrepresentation of the scriptures and the selective application of the knowledge.
Need of the hour – revamping the present education system
It’s no secret that the Indian civilization is the oldest surviving civilization in the world. It existed centuries before the other Western civilizations came into existence. Sanaatan Hinduism is the oldest religion (it became a religion under the British; before that, it was a belief system). Our scriptures are ancient, filled with wisdom far beyond the comprehension of the layman.
The dissolution of the Indian gurukul system, and introduction of the Western education, draped in the rigid Victorian value system, are responsible for the current state of the education system in the country. It’s lacunas screaming for attention, seeking relevance. And this is what Kanti fights for. His argument is simple – why haven’t we broken out of the shackles of the Victorian mindset and evolved with the times, when the rest of the world has done so? Why can’t sex education be a part of the school curriculum in India? Sex education is not about teaching children about sex, but about educating them about everything related to sex. Those seeking answers should not get it from sources that impart self-serving knowledge.
There was a scene where Vivek musters courage and asks his Biology teacher a question. The teacher blusters and shoos him off. So much for the school providing knowledge! Sex education in schools is needed to fill these gaps. If sex education is needed for the students, sex-ed training is needed for the teachers, to prepare them for the ‘uncomfortable’ questions.
Thinking the way ahead
Yes, the onus lies on the schools. They have to develop a 3 pronged strategy – one for the students, one for training the teachers, and one for counselling the parents. We may breed like rabbits (one billion population is proof enough!), but we are still prudish talking about sex. Be honest, how many of you, parents or teachers, have had the discussion with the children? And I am not talking about just the overworked birds and bees, but about other issues like menstruation, teenage pregnancies, physical changes, reproductive health, and so on.
That one question that Kanti asks the sex worker, about what kind of a person she wants her son to become, sums up the whole argument. Boys don’t need an Andrew Tate to poison their young impressionable minds. If we’re not ready to teach them what’s right, someone else might and it won’t be the right kind of knowledge. No point complaining then.
Are we ready to spend a few minutes talking to our kids so their doubts are cleared? We assume they will learn it “somehow”. Well, are we ready to deal with the consequences of this “somehow”? Mind you, children are no longer living in our protective bubble. The Internet has given them access to unlimited, unfiltered knowledge.
But their education begins at home. And so it is up to the parents to set this movement into motion.
First things first, let’s ask for the removal of the ‘A’ certification for the movie. Again the same prudish mentality. It’s about young adults, they must be allowed to watch the movie to start the discussion. Schools should show this movie to the secondary grades, the students who are going through this phase of hormone-induced emotional upheavals.
Let’s ask the schools to include sex education at school. A cursory lecture by the school counsellor is not enough. A professional sex educator must conduct regular workshops, encourage open discussions, use questionnaires to cater for anonymity and discomfort.
Both girls and boys, have to be dealt with with equal sensitivity. The socially conditioned bias should not pin the blame on girls and pardon the boys with “boys will be boys”; time for the boys to grow up and become gentlemen.
Let us ask the government to revamp the education system, making it more contemporary and relevant. Point to think – why are the international curriculums gaining importance in India? is it because it allows for more freedom of thinking and not just rote learning of irrelevant data? NEP 2020 is all set to bring about changes in the current Indian curriculums. The right time to include sex education.
What do you feel?
The children are ready. It is time for us to change our attitude.
Of course, there were many other social issues which the movie grazed over. But about those later, maybe in another blog. But for now, it’s all about sex education.
As the discussion has begun, let it gain momentum. I would love to hear what you’ve to say about it. Share your views in the comments below.