A painting, a short film competition and a powerful documentary, it was an excting day.

Bullying, ragging, class and culture divide, religious distinctions and individuality versus herd mentality. These stances of differentiation begin at an early age and to have a society free from all these social evils, the issue must be nipped in the bud. What better way to bring awareness than to get children to come together and think about it.

AEAI South Asia has commissioned a short film, “Punni ki Kahaniyan” to promote cultural harmony among children. The 18-minute film is aimed at audiences in the age group of eight to 15 years and depicts various issues that touch children's lives. All this is depicted sensitively in the larger backdrop of the need for multiculturalism, and respect for India's heritage of diversity.

“Punni” is an animated character that is both a narrator and observer. This has been made with children from various States of India, aptly reflecting our rich diversity in language, food, culture and mannerisms. It is specifically targeted at school-going urban and rural children.

“Punni Ki Kahaniyan” has been screened at Delhi, Jaipur, Bhopal, Patna, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Orissa.

To add to the fun there was also a painting and short film competition on the day of screening of the film in the twin cities when 142 paintings and seven short films from various schools in and around Hyderabad were received. The paintings were judged by Priti Samyukta, an artist and a Professor at College of Fine Arts, JNTU. The criteria of the paintings were judged upon the theme, drawing, compositional space that the child had arranged and the colour scheme. Anurag M of Std. VIII from Bharati Vidya Bhavan bagged the first prize while Mrudhula B. Rao of Std. X from Nasr was the first runner up and Shruti.P from Bharathi Vidya Bhavan was the second runner up.

Loves to colour

“I love painting and I never expected to bag the first prize. Winning this prize was a dream come true,” says Anurag M. The short videos on the theme of multiculturalism were being judged by Rituraj Sapkota, an independent filmmaker and a lecturer in mass communication and photo journalism, Loyola Academy, Secunderabad.

The first prize was bagged by Rosary Convent for the film “Why Not?” directed by Grusha and Ayesha. The film has a very well-planned script, smooth editing and conceived scenes; the film shows a good deal of maturity.

The second prize was bagged by Nasr School for the film “Is School the Basic Unit?” Directed by Medha P, the topic was simple and convenient-multiculturalism in their own school. “We thought it would be best to shoot in our school itself," says Medha after receiving her prize.

The third prize was given to Blooming Buds High School for “Punya”: A puppet play : Directed by Blooming Buds School (team). ”This was an example of a medium within a medium, filming a puppet show. The production had some flaws but they need to be overlooked, keeping in mind that the entire film was shot in one take. There was very good synchronisation among the puppeteers, the narrators and the characters, not to mention the background choir was terrific,” says the judge Rituraj Sapkota.