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  • Writer's pictureMalar Villi


My friend and I were eager to have a break and decided on a Tamil movie. We both voted for a light-hearted film, HERO. But it proved otherwise.

Yes, you are right, it's a Tamil movie. Yep, you are about to read a film review. One, I think, the critics missed out on.

I came back, heavy-hearted. Its message was about a topic I treasure, education.

My two takeaways:

  1. Everyone has the right to show their knowledge.

  2. Everyone is a hero

The heroes, in order of my preference.

Satyamoorthy: He mentors a group of children rejected by the education system for not being good enough. He believes and desires to empower the helpless and enable them to articulate their intelligence while staying optimistic and protective over them. He makes a difference by safeguarding them, setting clear boundaries, creating access to resources, teaching them the basics and then leaving it to their innovative minds to develop.

Meera: A volunteer whose vulnerability is her empathy for the individuals she meets and dreams of an ideal world. She takes integrity very seriously.

Mahadev: The villain in the suit who kills any competition that is a threat to his business. He is well accepted by society because he is intelligent, successful and uses his power effectively.

Madhi: This character made me think about the power we give the critics in questioning our integrity. It made me cringe with her choice to give in to her helplessness. Unfortunately, it is the existence of victims (victimisation) that breeds heroes. While I was tempted to criticise her decision, she helped me recollect the times I gave in to these voices too. Her decisions gives birth to Shakti's purpose.

Shakti: A happy, young man who had once dreamed of being a superhero. Life throws him a second chance to be a real hero. This time propelled by a purpose. He draws his mission from the pain of a victim and his own lack of awareness. He chooses to bring change and brings the hero who hides behind pragmatism.

The Students: The helplessness of poor, young students rejected by the system evokes empathy. I think money is the most valued measure of success. Exams are the means to that end. Their failure to impress with their scores puts an abrupt halt to their dreams. The disappointment of their scores soon foreshadows their belief in self. It is when Arjun opens the door of opportunity, that they fire up and innovate.

The critical differentiator is why it mattered enough for them to innovate with limited or no resources. They were purpose centric.

The pains of the people they loved and the daily problems they faced propelled them. Their determination to be resilient against these adversities and stay centred to the purpose moved me to the core.

Just as I dismissed the stirs of my heart with 'here's another Indian poor-boy-done-good-centric movie', let's get back to real-life, the video-clips/photos of the actual innovators came up on the screen. The stories are real. It was not just another movie. My mind wondered about the many treasures among us, who are yet to be discovered. Thus, this article.

Education. It empowered me. I have no outstanding academic achievements to shout about, and this keeps me on the path of learning. I have been blessed with many heroes; the teachers and mentors who have lifted me. My mum, who never ceased to believe in me, despite being illiterate, especially the times I had failed within the education system.

With the recent resignation of our Minister of Education and the resulting noise in the media, this movie made me wish that we will all be THE heroes our children need. I hope for our conversations with our children to shift from success to purpose, planting the seeds of growth in their hearts.

My takeaway as a parent:

  1. Be my children -BFE- Best Fan Ever (quote by George Aveling).

  2. Believe in them that they want to be their best.

  3. Listen, understand, respect them by being my best self, not perfect self.

  4. Be realistic and relevant that exams are about learning.

  5. Listen in and block out the noise.

  6. Be faithful to my children's inner voice and not to the world's noise.

  7. Love.

  8. Shed tears for the unexpressed pain of my child instead of the expressed expectation of the society. I have had my chance to live. It's their turn. Their dreams, not my regrets.

I hope.

Teachers and society to view life as a school. Let's take every opportunity that we communicate with kids to help them connect the dots in life to give them context for learning. Sundry shopping for Mathematics, kitchen chores for Science and family histories to reconnect with our identities, all a lost art.

Let's work together to protect dreams, talents and hopes of our young children that will connect to their purpose from the 'man/woman in the expensive suit with the big car' as a definition of success. Help our young ones discern from the promises of the many educational business promises that determine our child's future success. Be alert of the lack of empathy for our child's well being and aspirations.

Let's appreciate the educators who care in the form that encourages growth by setting boundaries, giving feedback, managing complaints and high expectations. Let's understand the old fashioned and unsophisticated ways that still matter. A purpose-driven path.

Let's stop waiting for a hero. Let's not ready to hand over our/their future to yet another hero in power. Let's all strive to learn and grow together. The future path may be vague, but not the fire in our hearts. Our harvest will be bountiful.

Pongal Vazthukkal

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