Any filmmaker would admit that the hardest sect of the audience to make films for is children. The art of learning to treat their subjects with a non-preachy approach while retaining the attention of kids throughout is certainly not a cakewalk. Creating something out of experiences and learnings for children as their focal point, a Bengaluru-based firm LXL Ideas has been working through numerous mediums like films, that are reaching out to over one million school children across our country. Two of the films produced by LXL under their children’s films’ banner School Cinema, The Little Magician and The Waterfall won the non-feature categories of the 64th National Awards as the best film based on family values and the best educational film respectively.
With extensive research and studies on children, the films targetted the specific mindsets of children of a particular age group. For instance, the film The Little Magician deals with the behaviour of 10-year-olds who face a lot of anxiety, anger and believe that their family doesn’t love them enough. Director of the film Neha Sharma portrays the relationship of a mother and daughter through the story of a young girl aged 10, who loves magic spells and wants to watch her favourite fantasy film on magic on the first day of its release, and how she deals with the situation when her mother can’t take her to the film.
“The film is all about making children understand a different point of view but without scolding or preaching. Most of the parents talk about the anger that their 10-year-olds contain. The biggest challenge is to make a child feel empathy. So, we were looking to address this issue through the film. Unfortunately, in our country, films are only seen as entertainment for the whole family, and never looked at for the kids specifically — it works on the highest common denominator aspect — and today we have kids singing and dancing to double innuendo songs and dialogues. This is a sad aspect, and through these kinds of children’s films, we’re looking toward teaching life lessons to kids while also entertaining them,” says Neha Sharma, who has also worked on films like The Dirty Picture and Sarkar Raj as an assistant director.
Director of the film The Waterfall, Lipika Singh Darai has been making films in Odiya language and her inspiration for the film was the gradually disappearing waterfalls of river Mahanadi in Orissa. “The story revolves around a boy who gets connected to the waterfall and begins to reflect on his relationship with nature as the waterfall begins to disappear due to corporate land ownership. With increasing urbanisation, children are terribly disconnected from nature. The idea is to have our young ones feel connected to the nature and care for it,” Lipika explains about the film that was made for 15 and 16-year-olds.
Despite being a country that makes a very large number of films, with a great number of filmmakers, it is unfortunate that our country makes the least number of films for its younger audiences, believes Syed Sultan Ahmed, an educator and the founder of LXL Ideas. “We set out to change that aspect and to create things for children that go beyond their curriculum of math and science and teach them about life. Through School Cinema, we have been making films that address various life and societal situations that become a part of the syllabus for children in over 600 schools in India, and have won six national awards so far,” concludes Sultan.