Dance. Music. Sports. Arts. Cinema. Literature... This Children’s Day MetroPlus meets five young girls who are making us proud and scaling new heights in different fields.
Chaitanya translates and acts, Charulatha is an upcoming veena artiste. Lakshmi travels to different corners of the world to bring home medals, playing chess, Varsha, a harikatha performer enthrals audiences with stories from the Puranas, while Chrisandria whistles her way success…
Name: V. Chaitanya
Achievement: Translated S. Ramakrishnan’s collection of children’s stories Kaal Mulaitha Kathaikal
One day, V. Chaitanya wrote a story about a fox that accidentally got doused in blue dye. There was nothing new about it — but it was an exact translation of the story in her Tamil textbook. For an eight-year-old, it was quite an extraordinary task. Her father Vinod realised then that she had a flair for languages. He egged her on to try translating writer S. Ramakrishnan’s collection of children’s stories Kaal Mulaitha Kathaikal.
“I took the book along when I went to Kanyakumari for vacations,” says Chaitanya. In 15 days, she translated 20 stories. Six months later, Chaitanya finished translating the entire book. In March this year, the translation, titled Nothing But Water (Vamsi Books, Tiruvannamalai) was released by director Balu Mahendra. It has received several awards, including the ‘Nalli Thisai Ettum Translation Award 2013’.
Proof-reading, selection of the wrapper design…Chaitanya saw to every aspect of the book. The Class IV student is currently translating a collection of Tamil poems. Chaitanya can actually read and write in five languages — Tamil, English, Malayalam, Hindi and Sanskrit.
She has even forayed into movies — she played the visually-challenged little girl in Mysskin’s Onayum Aatukuttiyum. What did the movie industry teach her? “I learned how to remain awake at night,” she smiles. (The movie was shot entirely at night.) Chaitanya wants to become a writer when she grows up. “No, an IPS officer,” she adds as an afterthought. In the meantime, she is acting in an ad film and is also blogging.
Name: Charulatha Chandrasekar
Achievement: Veena artiste
Amid all the cheering and celebration at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium recently during the inauguration of the World Chess Championship, one did not fail to notice this little girl performing along with prodigious veena artiste and Principal of Government Music College E. Gayathri. Seven-year-old Charulatha studying at DAV has been surrounded by the sound of strings since she was born. With veena vidushi R. S. Jayalakshmi for a grandmother, even as a toddler Charu would sit by her paati’s side watching her teach students. A revered guru, Jayalakshmi noticed the child’s love for music and began giving her lessons. Since Charu’s father also plays the veena, the child began playing the instrument with a natural flair. After a performance on Vijay TV, she is currently preparing for a concert in Bhadrachalam next February. “I enjoy playing the veena and will do so even when I grow up. Initially my fingers used to hurt but now they don’t,” says Charu. Her parents record the compositions and play it often for her to learn and reproduce them on the veena. “My favourite raga is Mohanam and I love the composition ‘Manikka veenai’,” says the little one, who practises for two hours every night.
Name: Chrisandria William
Achievement: The youngest member of the Indian Whistlers’ Association, winner of the Diamond Award for Young Achiever (Women) in 2012 (given by Ajanta Fine Arts)
With a whistler for a father, Chrisandria grew up trying to whistle. When it became apparent that she had a talent for it, her father took her to the Indian Whistlers’ Association (of which he is a member) to ask if she could become a member. She was seven years old. She performed the karaoke version of ‘Ennamo Edho’ and won the hearts of the selection committee. “They said they’ve never seen someone so young perform so well and asked me to join the association immediately,” she says. A Standard V student of Montfort Matriculation School, Andria was soon performing along with other members in various programmes. “We had an M.S. Viswanathan Kannada hits programme last year where I performed ‘Aadavarellam’,” she says. She also went on stage for a Shivaji Hits whistling concert. “People I meet tell me that for someone my age, I whistle well, I have good breath control and timing,” smiles Andria, who was awarded the Diamond Award for Young Achievers last year. “In school too, I am often asked to perform on stage. At Christmas time, I whistle carols and prayer songs. They call me ‘Whistle baby’,” she says. She says she likes to whistle happy songs and her current favourite is ‘Aadavarellam’ from the movie Karuppu Panam.
Name: C. Lakshmi
Achievement: Chess titles at the state, national and Asia level; ranked World No. 4 (Under 8 girls)
Ten-year-old C. Lakshmi played the toughest match of her life in Slovenia. “I don’t spend much time trying to learn from my opponents. I just focus on my game,” says the young star who has won three State titles, two National, and one gold and two silver medals at the Asia level. She was also ranked World Number 4 in the under eight girls’ category. Lakshmi, who has been playing chess for the last five years, spends four hours everyday on the game. “We play real games in class (T. Nagar Chess Academy) and I have four coaches who teach me,” she says and adds, “I rarely play against a computer. I prefer playing with people!” Ask her about time for TV and pat comes the answer, “I don’t watch TV. I play chess and then I have time for my studies. That’s all!” While she enjoys the game a lot, Lakshmi says she does get nervous before some games. “But I play anyway,” she muses. Her coach Srinivasa Rangan is all praise for the little champ and says that she is able to beautifully balance school and chess. Lakshmi has visited five countries — the Philippines, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Slovenia and Iran — to play chess and is gearing up to play in Dubai this December. “My father accompanies me on my trips,” she adds, “When I grow up I want to be a doctor!” Lakshmi is also an athlete. “I love participating in running races!” she says before signing off.
Name: Varsha Bhuvaneshwari
Achievement: Performed harikatha across the country
Like any mother, Gayatri used to tell bedtime stories to Varsha when she was toddler and she would listen to them intently. Gayatri then began narrating to her stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. By age six, Varsha’s interest in stories, particularly from the Puranas and the two epics grew so much that she not only spent a lot of time listening to them but also enjoyed reading books on them and began narrating them flawlessly0. With both parents being performing vocalists (father Sreyas Narayanan is an A grade AIR artiste), Varsha also began learning music. One day when Gayatri came to know of Harikatha exponent T. R. Kamala Murthy’s visit to the city took Varsha to seek her blessings. But the veteran was so impressed by Varsha’s talent that she decided to take her as her disciple that very moment. Thus began Varsha’s classes in harikatha. Quick on the uptake, she was soon well-versed in the various aspects of vedic literature and gained enough confidence to stage harikatha performances. “It’s fascinating,” says the 11-year-old. And how do her friends, many of whom might be Justin Beiber fans, react to her passion. “Oh, it’s their parents and grandparents who attend my performances,” she smiles. How does she feel about the audience’s cheers and applause? “I don’t focus on that much because I would then get distracted,” says the youngster, who reads everyday books on the spics including Amar Chitra Katha that “helps her visualise the scenes.”