On the eve of Children's Day, a look at five of the best Indian movies centering around children

Cinema is one of the greatest media um of art. However, has Sadly, Indian cinema has neglected children, in its Indian context and very few films highlighting children have been made. On the occasion of Children's Day tomorrow, here is a look at into five films that which took up the cause of children and child care with touchingly. human effects.

Munna

K.A. Abbas proved his versatility in writing and directing a film about a child who goes through a tragic life, and finally gets a chance at happiness. He introduced child artist Rumi who played Munna. Besides his ability in handling Rumi, the socialist in Abbas too came out in full bloom as he attacked the ruthless upper class. Made by Abbas purely for artistic satisfaction, the 1954-film was a praise-worthy experiment. Some of the shots of the child in urban areas were comparable to international levels, and had the influence of Vitorio De Sica. The likes of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen have praised “Munna”.

Boot Polish

The same year Raj Kapoor produced “Boot Polish” as a tribute to the child of independent India. In the film, he gave a break to director Prakash Arora, featuring two children Naaz and Ratan Kumar who donned the roles effortlessly. The story circles around two children who lose their mother, are tormented by their aunt, and go begging on the streets of Mumbai. John Chacha (David) notices them, develops affection for the children and gives them shelter. They start leading a life of dignity, polishing shoes. “Boot Polish” received special mention at the Cannes International Film Festival then.

Aakhri Khat

Chetan Anand's masterpiece after “Neecha Nagar”. Shot in Shimla and Mumbai, the film was similar in nature to K.A. Abbas' “Munna”, but handled better. It's a touching tale of a child wandering on the streets of Mumbai after his mother dies. Chetan Anand's said to have shot “Aakhri Khat” without a proper shooting script, letting his cinematographer Jal Mistry follow one-and-half-year-old Bunty Behl, the protagonist. Though the film starred Rajesh Khanna and Indrani Mukherjee, it was Bunty Behl who stole the show. The last scene where Bunty Behl touches his mother's statue and cries is deeply moving. The film was India's official entry for the Oscars then. Satyajit Ray is said to have termed Chetan Anand a master in handling child artistes, after having watched “Aakhri Khat” twice.

Kitaab

Though not of the standards of “Boot Polish” or “Aakhri Khat”, this 1978, Gulzar film was reasonably good. It's about a boy (master Raju) who stays with his elder sister Vidya Sinha and brother-in-law Uttam Kumar. Gulzar has handled children in the school with care, especially in the song ‘Masterji Ki Aa Gayi Chitti'. The under current of emotions were evident in “Kitab”, and it was far removed from the stylised commercial cinema of the 1970s. That the quest for knowledge through books is a must for any child, was a backdrop of “Kitaab”.

Masoom

Based on the book “Man, Woman and Child”, Gulzar wrote a script for “Masoom” more poignant than “Kitab”. The star attraction of Shekhar Kapur's debut directional venture was Jugal Hansraj, the child artiste who outclassed the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Sayed Jafri in the film. The plot centers around an uncared child from Naseeruddin Shah's earlier marriage, whom his second wife and children cannot accept as family initially. High on emotion and intelligently-directed, “Masoom” was one of the finest films of the 1980s, showcasing Shekhar Kapur's sensitivity as a director and influences of his uncle Chetan Anand. Jugal Hansraj excelled in his performance, and as Naseeruddin Shah himself once said, here was a brilliant performer who never got utilised after he grew up.

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