Summers are over, monsoon is here. Schools have begun. This post and those that will follow may seem, actually are, a little late. They should have started way back, say around April or even March. For it is in March to April that everyone from children to their parents start thinking about Summer Vacations. But it couldn’t. There was just one thing stopping it- you see, though the idea was there, this blog was not in existence then. Anyways better late than never. Hence, this announcement of Children’s Film Festival.
SUMMER HOLIDAY’S & CHILDREN’S FILMS:
My summer holidays mostly involved at least one visit to our grandparents’ place. In case we didn’t go most our time was spent in home. Back then I never attended any summer camps or special classes to sharpen my “talents”. To my great relief and joy nor did my friends. I still don’t think we missed much, because we spent the 60 days the way we liked (except for that frustrating part of Holiday Homework).
But no, I am not here to compare those days with today or to give a lecture on importance of visiting and knowing cousins.
I am here to discuss with you on movies. But not just any movies. The ones I am going to talk about used to be an important part of pastimes during summer vacations, not only during schooling but even in the college days. This was watching Children’s movies, specifically those made under the aegis of Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI).
Before we embark on our film to film journey in this beautiful, innocent world let’s first talk a little about the organisation of CFSI itself. And also a little about the Children’s Book Trust (CBT).
CHILDREN’S FILM SOCIETY OF INDIA (CFSI):
It is well-known that the first Prime Minister of our country, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was very fond of children. This led to the idea and establishment of CFSI with Pandit Hriday Nath Kunzru as its first President. Since its inception in 1955 CFSI has produced over 250 movies for children. The purpose of these movies has always been to provide pure and healthy entertainment to children, along with educative and social messages.
Pandit Nehru also invited noted film director Kidar Sharma to write and produce movies for CFSI, acting as its director-in-chief.
The very first film produced by CFSI, Jaldeep (1956), was written and directed by Kidar Sharma. This movie won the Best Children’s Film Award at the Venice Film festival in 1957. Kidar Sharma went on to write and direct many other films for CFSI including a movie based on Munshi Premchand’s story- Mahateerth (1961).
THE PEOPLE BEHIND CFSI MOVIES:
Over the years many stalwarts of Indian cinema like Tapan Sinha, Satyen Bose, Gajanan Jagirdar, Durga Khote, Vijay Bhatt, Sai Paranjpye have contributed to enrich this world of kids’ cinema. Many of these movies have won praises and awards world over.
Following is a list of few films of CFSI and the people associated with them:
The noted and versatile film writer, director, producer, lyricist of Hindi cinema, directed this maiden production of CFSI which went on to win Best Children’s Film Award at the Venice Film Festival in 1957. His other films made for CFSI include Mahateerth (1961), Khuda Hafiz (1981), Bachchon Se Baaten (1957), Ganga Ki Lehrein (1957), Ekta (1959).
It’s a little curious though that the About page of CFSI does not even mention his name.
Veteran actor, director, screenwriter and influential in both Hindi & Marathi cinema. His most notable works include, Ramshastri (1945, Co-Director & Actor), Padosi (1941, Director V. Shantaram), Vijayanta (1961, Director).
One of the earliest leading ladies and also one of the most favourite onscreen mother and grandmother of our cinema, she needs no introduction. This film about a retired school teacher and three orphaned children was co-directed with Nilkanth Magdum (cameraman & co-director).
Writer, producer & director, we know him for Baiju Bawra (1952), Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959). This film also features Morarji Desai talking about Mahatma Gandhi. His brother Harsukh Bhatt also directed a movie for CFSI called Kutte Ki Kahani (1964).
The legendary director apart from making this film, made couple of other children’s movies like Sabuj Dweper Raja (1979) & Aaj Ka Robinhood (1987). Both Safed Haathi & Aaj Ka Robinhood won awards at international film festivals.
What do I know him best for? Of course, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958). One of the most prolific and successful directors, his other notable movies include Jagriti (1954), Dosti (1964), Masoom (1960), Raat Aur Din (1967).
Noted personality of both Hindi & Marathi cinema and has directed documentaries for government bodies, many ad films and produced feature films and television serials. This film on Sane Guruji has won the following awards:
Special Jury Prize – 6th Cairo International Film Festival for Children – Egypt – 1995
Diploma of Honour to Director – 12th Isfahan International Film Festival for Children & Young Adults – Iran – 1996
Best Director Award – 33rd Maharashtra State Marathi Film Festival – India – 1996
One of our great film directors. His directorial venture Garam Hawa (1974) is considered one of the best films on partition. Alexander Zagurdi co-directed this film.
A well-known name in Hindi and Marathi films and theatre, her first feature film Sparsh (1980) won National Film Award. Chashme Baddoor (1981) & Katha (1982) are popular too. She made three more films for CFSI besides Sikandar.
Ismat Chugtai is a renowned writer and personality in Urdu & Indian literature. Her husband Shahid Latif was a director, producer and writer, and known for Ziddi (1948)– Dev Anand’s big break, Arzoo (1950), Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966). Together they have worked on many films including this beautiful children’s film.
Well, the above was just an indicative list of the contributions made by some of the noted film personalities of Indian cinema. There are many others who over the years have given their best to enrich this field in different ways. One such noteworthy name is the great music director Salil Chowdhury who has given music in many of the CFSI films.
CHILDREN’S BOOK TRUST:
I will take one more diversion here before beginning to write about the movies themselves. This diversion leads us to Nehru House, 4 Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi, which houses Children’s Book Trust or CBT. CBT is an organisation which has in its over 60 years of formation produced good quality literature for children (and grown-ups like me). CBT was established by noted cartoonist Keshav Shankar Pillai or SHANKAR as we popularly know him. Incidentally, this diversion to Nehru House also leads us to one of the best museums of India, Shankar’s International Dolls Museum.
SHANKAR, CBT & OTHER EFFORTS FOR CHILDREN:
K. Shankar. Pillai or Shankar is considered the father of political cartooning in India. He founded a cartoon journal called Shankar’s Weekly in 1948 which he closed in 1975 and thereafter dedicated his full time towards something closest to his heart, children, and developing various aspects of Children’s Book Trust.
But his efforts in the field had started way before, when in 1949 he organised Shankar’s International Children’s Competition (SICC) in painting and writing which has completed glorious 69 years. The On-the-spot painting competition was started in 1952 as a part of SICC. CBT was established in 1957 with an aim to provide quality books for children which are well-illustrated and well-designed keeping children in mind. To maintain this quality of publication he started the Indraprastha Press in 1965. To add more impetus to children’s literature and garner diverse ideas, a competition for Writers of Children’s Book was started in 1978.
The discussion on Mr. Shankar would not be complete without Doll’s Museum. Exhibiting thousands of dolls from various parts of India and from around the world this museum holds equal fascination for children and adults. This collection of costume dolls is the largest in the world and is housed on a floor of the CBT premises.
This building also houses Shankar’s Academy started in 1991 and a library for children.
CFSI & CBT:
The reason I initiated this discussion is that, like CFSI, CBT has been working towards providing healthy entertainment for children. And I maintain that these are equally healthy for adults too. Moreover, some of the children’s book published by CBT have been adapted in the CFSI productions.
As a matter of fact, the CBT publications that were bought in my childhood still hold their charm and I enjoy reading them once in a while. So, don’t miss it whenever you get your hands on them.
Here are some of my all time favourites:
THEIR VISION, OUR EFFORTS:
All the people who have been behind establishing and growing these organisations had a vision for children. They wanted and have worked to weave a world for children which has an innocence and is full of hope and faith. They have worked to keep their simplicity intact and helped to further their imagination, curiosity and creativity. They worked to give children a quality be it in education, literature or pure entertainment.
The people before us have enriched this world of children’s cinema with their vision and we can try to take it further ahead.
I hope my posts connected with the Children’s Films Festival will get your support. This way, all the institutes and organisations doing wonderful work in the field of children’s literature and entertainment will get motivated.
So, in the coming weeks watch out and join me as I take a look at this wonderful, endearing world of children’s movies. I will try to talk about as many of these movies as possible in my little space here.
FILMS FOR ALL SEASONS:
As I said in the beginning, I have been a little late in announcing this Children’s Film Festival. But never mind, let’s say they are preparations for your, I mean, your kids’ next holidays. You don’t even need to wait for vacations as they are films for all seasons.
DISCLAIMER: Please keep the following in mind though-
Whenever I sit to watch these films my age gets automatically reduced several years and I watch them keeping away all the cynicism or practical experiences that have come my way as an adult over the years.
References & Sources:
1. Children’s Film Society of India: http://cfsindia.org/
2. Children’s Book Trust: http://www.childrensbooktrust.com/