The movie deserves the applause it got, for dealing with an issue of a Child’s psychology, which has been ignored and perhaps never before dealt with in Indian Cinema. As autonomy sets in and the child moves onto other figures in his/her life, the importance of carers and their relationship with the child becomes an important developmental influence. While parents remain the stable, gratifying and disciplinary force, friends emerge as important too. Then come the teachers, neighbours and relatives and many more. The more the merrier! As long as positive relationships keep on forging, life moves on at a developmentally predictable course.
Meri Nimmo, however, deals with the slightly disruptive effect of peers (friends) AND of a carer leaving despite the child wanting her not to, desperately. Praying to God, dabbling in danger (being reckless) to prove God exists and resorting to tying the influential and important figure to himself; are just a few such actions depicted in this movie. Developmentally normal, I would say. What is not clearly known to mental health professionals, is the confounder effect of films (Indian) which show ‘another’ type of relationship between two people, which a child doesn’t understand but tends to believe is more important than the ‘usual’ relationship of affection. In this film too, the nudges and pushes of the sarcastic friend, lead to a make believe world of ‘another’ relationship between Nimmo and our leading ‘man’. This imaginary world is known to be there in our psychology, more when we are growing up as a child, and lesser later. I believe, societal changes in India, caused by satellite TV and now digital media (internet) are influencing this make believe world of children much earlier and speedier than before. This is not reflected in Meri Nimmo, because of the context of a rural/semi urban setting and because it is set about 20 years back (DDLJ film).
Today’s children, in semi urban India, would perhaps respond to the situation in this movie differently than the ease with which the child shrugs off Nimmo’s leaving after marriage. That is why I felt, the film is a lost opportunity in taking the narrative a little further and into the realms of child emotions and behavior when his/her important life figure is seen to be leaving despite all the promises, prayers and ‘mangalsutra’! It does not turn out to be so easy, these days especially in urban settings. With the number of carers, friends and relatives (and parents) around a child reducing and the activities that a child delves into while growing up not diversified enough, I believe, present day responses might not be so easily positive, and neither would families be as well prepared to deal with any different responses from a child who had just lost a ‘Nimmo’!
My perspective, I realise, is influenced by my being a Psychiatrist who will predominantly see unhealthy consequences of a child’s inability to wean him/herself off a loss of an important figure. But if the film would have dealt with the aftermath in a little more depth and perhaps shown how family, carers and the community can help children in such situation, that would have made this an excellent opportunity in community education of child psychology!