Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Celebrating unsung genre of celluloid

Niranjan N Kaggere

Ever since Lumiere Brothers invented Cinema, it has mesmerised everybody with its magical spell. Hardly we see people who don't come under the ambit of cinema. Everybody, ranging from a kid to old age people, throng to cinema halls. But the medium that has recorded many milestones has also recorded set backs which are eclipsed by the sheer popularity of the silver screen.
If anybody thinks that these movies fetch us only some sort of recreation, then our thinking is wrong. Movies being entertainers, they are educative too at the same time; unfolding the different facets of technology, topography, lifestyle etc. Extending into many genres such as documentaries, tele films, melodramas, children movies etc. the celluloid seems to be failed when it comes to the issue of children. As a result, if one could rummage through the history of cinema, it is puzzling to know that very few movies have dealt with the issues concerning children.
Believing in the 18th century say that 'child is the father of a man', we all know the importance of children in society. Childhood memories, lessons have inspired the bards, artists and many others over the centuries in creating master pieces in their respective fields. Pedagogical skills stress on the fact that children learn more cognitively than by teaching. Even many behavioural psychological surveys justify these skills. Movies with lot of fun, moral, adventure, suspense can bring about a change in the development of a child or at least it would influence one particular stage of his personality evolution process.
Accepting this attitude of children, even our education system has brought in many pleasing changes. With incoming of communication gadgets such as television, radio and computers into the class room, audio-visual way of teaching has become an effective way to reach the minds of children. And children movies, taking up the fabric of audio-visual teaching can weave many issues in profound manner and thus providing 'edutainment' to children.
At the backdrop of these issues, how about witnessing a festival of children movies in different languages? The idea seems to be refreshing and that's what the garden city saw during the last week like the yester years. For the past few months Bangalore seems to be basked in the glory of hosting some commercial festivities facilitating entrepreneurs, corporate in their competitive fields. But the events like children festival, as called by the people still appears to be incredible for the fact that the entire festival is conducted by private bodies without any government funding. But this doesn't mean that it was dictated by one central organisation. The entire on screen saga of unsung genre of celluloid was democratic with lot of like minded people pooling in their ideas, resource and contacts to make the event a grand success. The festival achieved its goal with least advertisement at the time when the city's streets were swaggering with the hoardings and posters of other festivities.
This years children's film festival conceptualisd around the theme, 'a joyride through films' brought as many as 30 movies of different Indian languages. Bangalore's children India, a nascent forum for children's films, educational and other allied activities was the mind behind the festival. It's not a cake walk as we all know to organise such a grandeous festival simultaneously at two cities. But the Children's India's initiative to bring about an awareness about the children movies and laudable coordination with children film makers of the country gave us pleasing results. A week long festival, witnessed the screening of nation's best children movies that have won accolades and awards at the national and international arena.
With the raging debate about the funding and creative flaws, the kannada film Industry was quiet successful in terms of its contribution to children cinema. Out of eight cinemas made in the last year, four of them have won many awards and were screened at all major film festivals around the world. 'A, AA, I, II' a kannada movie directed by N R Nanjunde Gowda was a big hit among many kannada movies that were screened at the festival. The movie highlighting the dichotomy between traditional and technological life hints at the different alternatives for children's learning process. Another kannada movie 'Pravaha', which was selected for Indian Panorama in 2004-05 was centred around the concept of globalisation and its aftermaths on our culture and tradition. Depicting a potter as an exemplary victim, the movie flashes light on poverty of village craftsmen and their miserable social life. The movies looks at the myth of globalisation through the eyes of thirteen year old son of the potter and brings out horrifying shadows of the much venerated concept. Directed by veteran actress of the Kannada cinema, Arathi, 'Mithayi Mane' is about the 'sweet illusions' of life. The entire story is based upon German fairy tale Hansel and Gretel and blending Indian puppet play with it to showcase the symmetry between the powerful and powerless and exploitation of children. What seems to be more interesting about the movies was its reconciliation of old and new forms of story telling. The novel technique introduced by the director juxtaposes the fairy tale and screenplay against a rural and urban milieu. The movie takes up the issue of a young girl who's has given false promises by an urban family. When the family fails miserably to keep up the promise, the girl takes up the task of reviewing the intricacies of human relationships and thus portraying the children-elder subtle relationship. In fact the movie has won the best children movie awarded by the State Government.
Movies from other languages were also not far behind in the race in depicting the children issues. 'Malli', directed by renowned cinematographer Santosh shivan was the much discussed movie. Apart from the movies revealing the psychological and social side of children issues, there were also some movies with the use of graphics and imaginary characters to spur creative talent among children.
Looking at the contemporary situation when there is a void, kept open to fill, created by a lack of good children movies, efforts like these would bring more satisfaction. In many situations children's films do not have theatre screenings owing to different reasons. But film festivals are the great platforms in trying to open up the child's horizon. But many people say that it is not easy to find a formula for a better children film. It's true to a certain extent but a good film with all its accolades at many stages need not translate into commercial success. Many elements need to be woven into the storyline and at the final level it should touch the child's heart. That's what most of the movies did during the week long festival. As Ellen kelly, a Sweedish writer, puts up" at every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experiences of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses." Let us welcome this attitude in bringing about a change in our children's better performance.

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