Birds, Bees and More

Addressing the sensitive subject of sex education, Ravi Jadhav's Marathi film Balak Palak will be screened at the South Asian International Film Festival

Filmmaker Ravi Jadhav was faced with a dilemma last year when his 13-year-old son asked him why the girls who used to play with him when he was younger chose to stay away from him now. Jadhav understood his son's quandary, but found it rather difficult to answer. This and several such instances laid the foundation for his forthcoming release, Balak Palak (abbreviated to BP, which is also a reference to blue prints or pornographic films). "I realised the need to educate our children about sex at a young age so that they understand and react accordingly," says Jadhav, who has been invited to show the film at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York this month.

Marking actor Riteish Deshmukh's debut as producer, the film is based on the importance of sex education and focuses on how very few parents are keen to discuss the sensitive subject with their kids. "Teen queries on this subject are often dealt with a slap or a shout," says Jadhav. The narrative revolves around four teenage friends (Avya, Bhagya, Chiu and Dolly), who overhear that their friend Jyotitai, a resident of their colony, has shifted out because she brought disgrace to her family. Having received unsatisfactory explanations from their parents for Jyotitai's exit, the four take up the challenge of finding out what her disgraceful act was. They end up befriending a schoolmate Vishu, who is older than them. He introduces them to the world of blue movies and believes that one has to read, watch and if need be perform, to understand the true meaning of life (read sex).

Jadhav is known to extensively study the subjects of his films. As a result of his efforts, his first two films, Balgandharva and Natarang, won critical acclaim, box-office success as well as national awards. His research for Balak Palak was more academic. "I went to schools, met principals and teachers. I also met a lot of parents and tried to understand the psyche of a teenager before I got down to writing the script," says Jadhav, adding that his biggest concern was to make the film entertaining for audiences. "I wanted to string the film together with humour, which, I believe, is the only way to reach out to the youth," says he.

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