Slay your demons, in royal style!

QUIET HEROISM

Slay your demons, in royal style!

Raja was fuming. The bully Ramesh and his gang had called out, ‘Rajadhiraja -King Georgeaa..!’ as soon as he had entered the class.

Being a regular reader of the newspaper Raja knew that they were referring to the stuttering king about whose problem a movie had been made. The actor, who played the king, had won an Oscar too. As if people like Ramesh didn’t have enough to tease Raja about his stuttering.

 At twelve, Raja’s stuttering was becoming a major problem. He couldn’t answer questions even when he knew the answers. He couldn’t shout out instructions during the football game. Worse, he couldn’t even ask for his favourite brand of potato chips at the shop. All days were not equally bad. On some days when he was very happy he could speak easily. With his dog, Dexter, he had so far never stuttered. He also sang without stuttering. When people were patient like his Ajji, he managed to talk well but sometimes his mouth, it seemed, just wouldn’t listen to his head. He repeated words, dragged the syllables and even slapped his thigh to continue talking.

His mother had told him that he had started stuttering at three years of age. With speech therapy he had become quite fluent. But now, since two years, his stuttering had come back. With school, games, TV and the Internet he was not keen on getting back to therapy despite his mother’s insistence. He wished there was a quick operation or some other medicine that would cure him. “Oh no, it is only constant practice that helps,” the speech therapist had said.

And today to be called King George VI for all the wrong reasons was very annoying. He came home, threw his bag down and slouched on the sofa. “We are going to watch The King’s Speech this evening,” announced his mother.

“Yyyyou you ddon’t even allow me to watch TV to my heart’s content, wwhy do you want me to watch this movie, Amma? And ttoday Ramesh even called me King George,” wailed Raja. “Just wait and watch,” said Amma with a mysterious smile. “If Ramesh had really watched the movie, he wouldn’t have teased you at all,” she added.

It was only the thought of popcorn and the escape from school books that excited Raja. Watching the Duke of York pursue his lips and struggle to speak, Raja felt a chill run down his spine. It was not as if he had not seen anyone else stutter, but to see it on big screen somehow magnified his own problem. He fidgeted and Amma squeezed his hand. As the Duke’s wife took him to the speech doctor, Raja vaguely remembered his own breathing exercises. When the king cursed fluently, Raja recalled that he too became very fluent while cursing, but doubted if mother would ever allow him to do it in public!

Raja’s eyes grew moist when the Duke had to agree to become the king despite his great fear of not being able to speak well in public. Hadn’t he refused to stand for the class leader’s post even though he was an all-rounder? He knew he couldn’t address the class and seek their votes.  

“Watch carefully dear, the King now practises his speech,” said his mother. It was war time and as the entire world listened, the king had to declare war against Hitler. Starting hesitantly, the king delivered a “scintillating” speech. At the end of it, Raja felt as relieved as the king himself! And seeing the king walk out of the recording studio with great confidence, Raja felt his confidence soar too. “Amma cccan we re..resume speech therapy? I want to participate in the debate competition this time and also stand for class leader election?”

“Yes, your majesty!” said a happy Amma. “I will help you practise your speech if you promise to give me half your pocket money,” added his sister. Raja laughed happily.

 

 What the film is about...

‘The King’s Speech’ is the private story of a famous public man, King George VI (known in his family as Bertie), the woman who became his queen, and the innovative Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped him control and come to terms with the stammer that had tortured him since childhood.
The social and political background is the Depression, the rise of fascism, and the arrival of the mass media as a major force in everyone’s lives. Central to the dramatic action are four crucial incidents: the death in 1936 of George V, the first monarch to address his subjects via the radio; the accession to the throne of his eldest son as Edward VIII and his almost immediate abdication; the crowning of his successor, George VI; and finally, in 1939, the outbreak of a war.

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