Amidst the recent lot of children's theatre, animated films, and child-centric commercial films, it's become difficult to spot the real winner. Is there one film that comes easily to mind when you think wholesome infotainment plus useful messaging for the children?

Well, through September, you could find one such, in Aide et Action (AEA) International's “Punni ki Kahaniyaan” — a sweet children's film, which promises to be a refreshing change from the commercial masala films for the young ones.

The not-for-profit organisation that works to ‘change the world through education' has brought out the simple, short, effective film to help promote cultural harmony among children.

The 18-minute film is aimed at audiences in the age group of five to 12 years and depicts various issues that touch children's lives, such as bullying/ragging in school, class and cultural divide, religious distinctions and individuality versus herd mentality.

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 acts both as narrator and observer, sometimes voicing the thoughts going through the young audience's mind; at other times, pointing out insensitivity in a way that children can relate to.

In the first of the series, “Punni ki Kahaniyan” has been made with children from various states of India, aptly reflecting our rich diversity in language, food, culture and mannerisms. With dialogues in Hindi, the film is specifically targeted at school-going urban and rural children.

At its heart, the film hopes to influence students on the need to recognise India's strength as a nation of vivid cultures and varied identities. “In their run towards modernity, children in recent times have not been able to give enough attention to one of India's greatest values – diversity and multiculturalism. We are happy to come out with ‘Punni ki Kahaaniyan' – a series of short films on such basic values that are fast deteriorating. Children of today are not just the actors in these films but they also bring their own perspectives about gender equality, inclusive society, social equity and the way they want to see the world,” adds Ravi Pratap Singh, Regional Director-South Asia, AEA International.

Aide et Action has aptly adapted the audio-visual medium to create the animated character Punni under their Animation for Change programme, conceptualised and created to strike a rapport with younger viewers and deliver key messages through films and games.

“This film is an effort to enhance the dialogue among children on multiculturalism through a medium they love,” says Vishy, Head-Communication, AEA-South Asia. Animation for Change seeks to help children imbibe values of ethnic and cultural harmony, respect for co-existence, and protection of our environment and ecology, as these concepts are easy to take forward to children through a medium they accept easily.”

AEA, a secular, apolitical, not-for-profit and non-governmental organisation, founded in 1981 in Paris, France, works to empower marginalised communities through education. As a tribute to the nation's teachers who imbibe similar values to children, Aide et Action will be screening the film at government-run and private schools in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Guwahati following the occasion of Teacher's Day on September 5. At some locations there would be special screenings on World Harmony Day September 21. AEA will be tracking responses of the children during and after the screening to generate feedback and debate among them.

For details on the screenings in Bangalore, call 99453 81030/ 40934561 or visit www.aea-southasia.org.