Mumbai, July 9 Are you keen to take your young one to see a children's film and are finding your choices limited? That is because, says actress Nandita Das, the Indian movie industry, that will turn 100 next year, is ignoring films for children.
Known to be one of the most flourishing movie-making nations, India churns out about 1,000 films every year but Nandita, chairperson of the Children's Film Society, India (CFSI), points out that children's films are just a "small percentage" of that number.
"I do hope that films like 'I Am Kalam', 'Stanley Ka Dabba' and 'Chillar Party' start a trend and are not just films that come and go by," Das told in an interview.
She feels that if the filmmakers would come together and give a much needed boost to the "ignored genre", "then we are giving a great gift to the children of the country".
"They are exposed to 'Rowdy Rathores' of this world, which is fine. But they also must have something that is age appropriate for children.
"How can the same film appeal to a six-year-old, a 16 and a 60-year-old? I think it is important that children should get a chance to see such films. They will only get a chance when these films are made and released," the actress added.
The sad state of children's films could be understood from the fact that CFSI has made 250 films so far, but "I was so surprised to find out that not one film has been commercially released so far," said Nandita.
The 42-year-old informs that "Gattu", about a boy's obsession for kite flying, his aspirations and dreams, will be CFSI's first commercial release and she is confident that "children from all over India would relate to 'Gattu' ".
She explained this by saying: "When you see another person enjoying what they are doing, you are able to extend your own dream as well. Even if they (children) are not exposed to kite flying, they would relate to that passion. 'Gattu' gives me the courage to follow my dream as well. I will feel that if he can do it, so can I. This is the USP of my film," she told .
Talking about the making and promotion of "Gattu", she said it has been "quite a struggle" and that she has been "conservative" towards the marketing budget.
"All said and done, the money comes from tax payers, it is not a company," she said.
Though the film would have a commercial release, "Gattu" has no plans to compete with big names.
"We are not saying we are fighting big films. All we are saying is that there is a space for these kinds of films too and there is a need for them. Children do need films, which are fun and convey messages in a subtle way.
"It's about creating space for these kinds of films. Only big starrers don't have to be promoted all the time. People want to see other stories as well," she added.
Another aim is to shift focus from elite crowd in Mumbai to a cross section in society through such films.
"We are trying to do different films from all over India. Most films are shot in Bombay (Mumbai). They are about Bombay characters and are all upper class. You want films also about the cross section in society," she said.
When asked whether she would like to be a part of mainstream cinema, she said, "My father is a painter and my mother is a writer, in my childhood I was never exposed to mainstream cinema. I got close to cinema so much later, that too to world cinema and all; so it (mainstream cinema) has never been my cup of tea. I don't relate to it and I don't watch it and therefore I don't have the desire to do it."
(Anjuri Nayar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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