Nandita Das at the helm of the Children's Film Society
She is known to do offbeat stuff. Yet, Nandita Das herself was surprised when she was appointed chairperson of the Children's Film Society, India.
“I'm yet to find my feet but I am committed to bringing in some systemic changes. Three years is a small time. I want the process of change to start.”
Nandita has started by reviving the children's jury at the festival and instituting the best screenplay award. “Screenplay is key to a film and in a children's film it becomes crucial. We are going to brainstorm on the definition of a children's film during this festival.”
Time to redefine
Why are we still grappling with such basic questions? “I mean it is time to redefine things. Today kids are exposed to different media. What worked for us might not work for them. We have an open mind to different views.” She adds: “Films did not play a significant role in my upbringing. My parents didn't approve of the medium. I did watch some films like ‘Safed Moti' and ‘Haathi Mere Saathi'.”
Children's films are in such bad shape in the country that Nandita could not find 12 quality films for the Indian section. “Some makers might not have been able to reach us but we know that quality filmmakers are not keen to make films for children.” Is budget an issue considering quality animation needs big money? “It is one of the issues. Big budgets do not necessarily deliver good content. We don't want to go the Government with a begging bowl. First, we have to deliver some good products.” Nandita agrees distribution is also a major hurdle. “We have to think out of the box. What might not work for metro kids, might find an audience in small towns. Regional children's film festivals could help generate a demand.”
She has roped in Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj, who are known for their interest in the genre, for discussions at the festival. CFSI has also partnered with UNICEF.
As a novel initiative, films made by child reporters are being showcased. “Children are not only consumers of information. They can also tell their own stories from their own perspective. We are open to NGOs who are active in the field of children's education and entertainment.”