Well, the last time I wrote blogpost on a movie, was way back in 2016. It was around Jungle Book movie. Its always fun when you notice something different from others from the same movie. Many of my relatives and friends do criticize me for this habit of taking movies too seriously. But, can’t help it! Its the inherent drive to seek meaning out of anything that I do, always takes the driver’s seat. So, this time I am going to share about the most hyped kids movie of this year, The Lion King.
The promotions started very early and even before the World Cup ended. It simply means the marketing team found it worth to shell out extra money (due to expensive World Cup TV advertising rates) and build that hype. The initial teasers just focused on the animals and the cute cub. But, later the teasers started showing the man who gave his voice to the movie, the one and only Shah Rukh Khan. And later I got to know that not only King Khan, but his son Aryan Khan also gave voice over in the movie. So, the stage was set for lot of kids and the King Khan fans to enjoy the extravaganza.
Frankly, in my personal opinion the movie didn’t stand upto its expectation. I felt amidst few positive learning here and there for parents and kids, the central line of story was still demotivating. In fact I felt it would send a wrong sentiment message to the kids.
Taking a step back, let’s try to think who was the actual target audience for the movie.
Primary audience: I felt kids between 5 – 12/13 years age are the primary target audience, as most of them have the patience to sit at one place for two hours in a dark room, with the 3D glasses on.
Secondary audience: However, kids from 3 – 5 years or teenagers from 13 to 18 could be secondary target audience. The former wouldn’t understand the meaning, but just enjoy the showcasing of wild animals. While the latter would enjoy the dialogues, visualization, graphics and some serious teenagers would also try to seek some learning.
Tertiary audience: How do we leave apart the parents? Most of the kids would be accompanied by their parents or at least one parent.
So, who which of the, three above target audiences would have watched the movie in most numbers? Obviously the primary audience. And, I strongly feel the key message had a dichotomy and 50% of the primary audience would have been uncomfortable or at least a pinch of sadness from the storyline. Wonder why? Hold on your curiosity for few more minutes.
Central Theme of The Lion King
I guess most of us (adults) walked off the cinema screen with the most common takeaway ‘Circle of Life’. The movie starts with the authoritative king of the jungle addressing the member of jungle. And the movie ends in a similar fashion, with the only change being, the king of the jungle has been replaced. So, the life goes on, irrespective of many hurdles we face in our daily life. A few people come and go in our life, but one must focus on the larger agenda of life and stay firm.
Other learning from The Lion King
Apart from the above central theme of the movie, I felt both parents and kids had enough to learn. If we divide the movie as per an human being’s lifespan, it could be divided into four parts – Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood and Old Age. I could clearly see all these parts in the movie through the life of Simba, the cub. And, there are many learning from each stage for both parents and kids.
Childhood – ‘Simba – The Kiddo’
Right at the onset, the young Simba is introduced to the World as the future king, who will rule the kingdom one day. Mufasa, the then king of jungle, tries to explain the responsibilities that Simba might have to fulfill one day. However, the curiosity of Simba, like any other young kid is at highest level. He faces trouble twice – Once when he goes to the elephant graveyard and second time when he goes to the gorge, after his uncle, the Scar misguides him.
Learning for parent – No matter how much you preach, its difficult to control the curiosity of kids and hence its necessary to keep an eye on them on a continuous basis. Not every time you can reach on time to save your kid from the trouble. In the movie Mufasa could save Simba once, but not the second time and ended up losing his life.
Learning for kids –
Its good to have curiosity in life, but always keep them within limits. Your parents have seen more in life and would advice the best for you.
Try not to blindly trust everyone who guides you. Even if you take other’s advice, take it with a pinch of salt and ascertain it with your parents. In the hindsight, had Simba recollected the first mishap (at elephant graveyard) and ascertained the second information shared by Scar, with his parents, there would have been different situation.
Do not lose hope with your failure. Always return to the place from where you started and give it a fresh start.
Adolescence – ‘Simba – The Explorer’
Simba’s guilt and misguidance by his uncle, makes him wander away from his kingdom. He is lucky to get two friends, who guide him well and make him belief in their ideology of Hakuna Matata (no worries). Simba reaches his adulthood in the company of happy-going friends. In the parallel world, Scar misused his authority and destroyed the kingdom, leaving nothing behind for the fraternity.
Learning for kids – One should be careful about the type of friends in life. There could be friends who at times deliberately or otherwise end up misguiding. And, there will always be a bunch of good friends would stand up with you in your thick and thin.
Learning for parents – One shouldn’t misuse the authority. Just because you have got power, doesn’t mean you should do whatever you want to. We should think of larger society and act wisely.
Return of Simba to the Kingdom – The Self Discoverer
In a dramatic fashion, Nala escapes from the kingdom to find a help. In the process, she ends up finding Simba. She tries her best to convince him. Simba also rediscovers himself and realizes that his kingdom needs his help. He returns to dethrone his arrogant uncle, the Scar and continues the Circle of life.
Learning of kids and parents – One should always look within oneself and find meaning in one’s life. Its easier to always be in fun zone and not take up any responsibility. However, its essential for each one of us to take the responsibility we can and ensure we contribute to the betterment of the society.
So far, all good, now let’s see where The Lion King disappointed me.
I couldn’t answer my eight year old son’s questions – Why didn’t the Scar save his brother, the Mufasa? Why did Scar push Mufasa? Shouldn’t we help the person in need?
This is the lasting negative impact the movie would have left on many kids. We keep preaching our kids to help the needy, and there comes a movie which shows the cruel side of brotherhood. Its not that kids don’t study the cruelty in terms of various stories in their academics, but its mostly around friends, and not around brotherhood. Instead of focusing on positive sentiment of encouraging fair competition, the turning point of a movie was a negative sentiment. This is where I felt, the movie let me down big time.
I couldn’t accept that the central theme of movie (Circle of Life) was based on the plot of dethroning someone with a wicked strategy, and reclaiming the throne with the win of Good over Evil. There could have been multiple positive plots to exhibit the same central theme.
Alternative Plots of The Lion King
I felt the movie director could have focused on any of the below positive plots –
A united society – The plot could have been on, how the united strength of lions defeated their opponents (hyenas) and ensured there was peace in the kingdom. The initial attack of hyenas and their mayhem on the kingdom, could have been tackled by the herd of lions by being together and not conflicting within themselves.
Environment conservation – Afforestation is discussed at length and breadth across the World. The impact of afforestation resulting into loss of wildlife habitat, critical environmental complications like melting glaciers, decreasing rainfall etc. are covered almost daily in newspapers. How animals worked towards restoring their jungle against the man made mayhem would have been more convincing.
Wild Life Conservation – Wild animals are widely killed for their skins, bones, flesh and oil. Its leading to rapid decrease in wild life population and many animals are on the verge of extinction. The plot could have been on how animals showed their positive end of helping human beings in couple of instances and thereby proving themselves a cohabitant of this beautiful world.
My only submission is, its easier to plot a story on ‘Good over Evil’. Psychologically, we human beings naturally are inclined to that thought right from our kindergarten days to mythological stories that our grandparents would have told us. But, its tough to think beyond them or connect with the real life issues that kids are facing today. Its their future. Its our responsibility to awaken them of these issues and help them think in a positive manner.