By Adnan Murad
It is a struggle for teachers to deal with the expectations students have set for themselves. Being a teacher, I can relate to this situation as I come across students who routinely complain about marks and their grades. Even if someone receives a good grade or has shown improvement, the focus is entirely on being at the top. One of my students, after the January assessments this year, told me that he was happy with his score but he was just expecting more.
It is significant to notice here that ‘expecting’ is the keyword in this matter.
As a potential parent, a concerned teacher and a citizen of this country, I want to explore these expectations and their origin(s). This is why I am writing about this film because I think it is very, very crucial to talk about such issues.
It is important to start the discussion by addressing the following questions:
Where are these expectations coming from? How come are these children made to expect so much from themselves? Is it because of their peers, teachers, parents or misleading role models?
Children, perhaps, are trained to be smart alecks these days. In my opinion, they are also forced—to a great extent—into behaving like this because of the problematic role models that they see in films and dramas.
I will get more relevant by using the film in case: Omar Hassan’s Tick Tock.
My main concern with Tick Tock is the fact that children are shown as know-alls. This seems a bit too unfair for our children who will flock to theatres to watch this film because we do not want our children to be clever clogs. We want them to behave like normal human beings who can make mistakes, can falter at times and can be fragile.
However, Tick Tock sets a fallacious precedent for our children by depicting them in a way that is depressingly dismal.
The film’s protagonists, Daanya (Maria Memon) and Hassan (Ahsan Khan), are children, but they behave and act in a way that normal children would not. They remember all the dates and events related to those dates; this is something we are trying to discourage in our schools and learning spaces. We are trying to get away from the concept of rote learning, which has plagued the concept of learning in our society for generations; due to which, there is also an absolute dearth of critical thinking in our children.
This is why Tick Tock is not only condemnable for the odious depiction of children, but it is also worth criticising for its amateurish storytelling, mediocre direction, laughably bad animation and, most importantly, its blatant display of violence.
I like the main idea of this film. As a concept map, the idea must have been fascinating. It would have immediately piqued the film-maker’s interest to go out and make a film around it, but things do not always turn out the way we expect them to.
This is a story that could have done wonders had it been written and executed by someone who really cared for the growth of local cinema. Unfortunately, in director Omar Hassan’s hands, this movie unfurls like an abominable mess that is exponentially disconcerting at many levels.
Hassan shares the writing credits with Omair Alavi. I have faith in their intentions and I am sure that this movie was made with genuine efforts; however, like I earlier wrote, we do not always get what we ‘expect’.
Expectations, therefore, can become a roadblock in the way of learning if we are not receptive to feedback.
Discussing film-making with my students and colleagues, I often tell them that making a film is like sitting in a summative assessment after a year’s hard work—except the cost that goes into making a film is much more than tuition fee for a school or college—where it is a daunting task to meet the requirements; sometimes, students overwhelm teachers through treatment of content and sometimes they leave their teachers underwhelmed. Nevertheless it must be a teacher’s goal to make her/his students fall in love with the concept of knowledge and treat words and numbers in a sacred way.
The feedback may not always be flattering for the students; this goes for the film-makers too. On a positive note, film-makers should honestly seek guidance that will enhance their future body of work.
For Tick Tock, I would not have much to say if I were to guide the director or writers about their future projects; however, being storytellers, we must come together to create a framework as to how children’s films should be made. We must agree on the topics that should be incorporated in our stories, topics that need to be strictly avoided and topics that our children want to learn more of.
I am sure no parent would want her/his children to be affected by the concept of mainstream violence. Parents are not even okay with children remarking about how unclean Pakistan is—which the protagonists of this film underline at one or two instances.
As a society, we have to teach our children to be more compassionate, empathetic and tolerant. Pakistan, as a country, is facing challenges, but let’s just focus on the positive aspects to make our children optimistic about this country’s future prospects.
Overall, Tick Tock provides no significant learning opportunity to the children—and when it chooses to do so, it just does not work; therefore, it will be fair to say that the film in case is neither valid nor educative.
It hurts me to say that it is one of the most upsetting films I have ever seen that is ostensibly made for children.
Abandon all hope, ye who plan to watch this film.