Some time back I came to a conclusion. I realised that there are only two kinds of adverts running on TV – the ones you will never forget and the ones you will not bother to remember.
Since most fell into the latter category serving no greater purpose than making you dream of fairer skin and low cholesterol chips, I had relegated them to background scores for bathroom breaks as my favourite TV soaps took theirs. However, Complan’s latest advert made me sit up and take note, and not for a single right reason. Let me explain!
A boy comes to his father and names the culprit Bakul Pandey – straight faced, expressionless and reminding me of someone seeking the mafioso’s help for troubleshooting. The culprit has been teasing the boy about his vertically challenged appearance and the boy wants the problem redressed. The father, who seems like a goodly kind of man, first lackadaisically asks his son to ignore the teaser but then gives him Complan to increase his height to non-teasing standards. In the end, he asks his now-tall-enough son about the latest on the teaser with the son pronouncing him goonga (dumb) and laughing it off. What a happy little story of father-son bonding!
Now for my story. My father is 5 feet 6 inches tall and my mother stands taller at 5 feet. And while my brother broke all genetic barriers to reach 6 feet, I was left somewhere in between my mother’s height and my father’s. Secret being – I am an inch shorter than the average height of women kind in India. Perhaps this height-ened background was in mind when I read into the advertisement. Here is what I think:
1. The 30 second advert promotes a strange way of complaint redressal by the parent. The father asks him to ignore the teaser at first, simply make unheard what his son is perhaps hearing enough and getting troubled by. Thankfully, the boy does not think that possible.
Then, instead of explaining things to him as to how appearances are not important, the father decides to stop the teasing by making his son grow taller – and in a way, acquiescing to the teaser’s idea of a standard height in the first place. So what do we have? Either ignore the problem (the biggest cause for the biggest problems besetting children these days!) or join the problem causer (he thinks you are short? Doesn’t matter, I will make you tall.)
I wish the seriousness of mindless teasing and bullying was handled with an equal amount of maturity on TV. I also wish someone had told the little boy, as has been told to me so many times, that good things come in small packets. It may not have helped the inches of his height but would have helped the inches of the ideas of personal worth in this 7-years-old mind.
2. With all due respect to Complan (I have myself been a Complan girl some 20 years back), the advert is deceptive to say the least and scientifically defective at its worst. Are you telling me that drinking Complan with my milk will make me grow noticeably tall enough, while I am still in the same class as the bully and while the bully still continues to bully me?
Which is to say, enough increase in height to make the bully take notice and shut up in less than a year? If it’s possible by drinking your drink alone, you are miracle workers, no less. If it’s just for show time, you need to read and acknowledge genetics and its related sciences. (PS – No! I could not read the minuscule font after the microscopic star that was flashing at the bottom of the advert as tall claims were being made. If it was important, it would have been in a bigger font.)
3. Finally, it promotes the idea of ‘give it back’. The boy seeks his father’s help for being stamped with a label based on his appearance. We all know how detrimental to psychological development labels can be. By the time the 30 seconds are over, the boy and his father have found one for the teaser instead – goonga. I do not know about you, but the usage of the word is reprehensible and a shame to be coming out of a young mouth or for being laughed off by an older one. And as far as I remember my moral science right, an eye for an eye never really solved anything. It only perpetrated wrong.
Am I reading too much into this? Maybe! Blame it on me being a mother to a 2-year-old, whose well being happens to be my responsibility, along with his ideas of self and self-worth, both.
Sakshi Nanda went from studying Literature to serving the print media and finally settling with two publishing houses who called her editor for a couple of hard-bounds, no more! She writes as a work-from-home mother to realize herself as well as to be read, both – with her 2-year-old boy and her sarkari babu beau as the greatest source of ideas and inspiration. She believes eating baby food is therapeutic and that the pen is man’s best invention, after diapers that is! Meet her at: sakshinanda.blogspot.in