Tigmanshu Dhulia wakes up to young minds

Tigmanshu Dhulia plans to expand his production house by promoting a neglected genre — children's films; other filmmakers tell us why the industry isn’t so open to movies targeted at Gen Now

Ask an average Bollywood fan to name some children's films in recent times, and you might find them racking their brains. Children's films in Bollywood have come few and far between with most producers interest to put their money into commercial potboilers. Taking note of this, filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia has decided to direct a kiddie flick and fund such movies by new directors.

A still from Bikas Ranjan Mishra’s Chauranga, which is set to release in January 2016
A still from Bikas Ranjan Mishra's Chauranga, which is set to release in January 2016

“Tigmanshu wants to expand his production house by promoting the genre. Though he is aware that not many films focussed on children are being made, he believes there is a market for them. He is planning to direct a children's film; it is likely to go on floors next year,” informs a source close to the filmmaker.

A still from the critically acclaimed Stanley Ka Dabba
A still from the critically acclaimed Stanley Ka Dabba

He also wants to encourage writers and directors exploring the genre. “He has started getting scripts and concepts centered around kids. He will soon announce a few children's films to be made under his banner,” adds the source.

Earlier this week, Tigmanshu attended the launch of an international children's film festival in New Delhi which will premiere over 50 independent feature length films, short films and documentaries for kids between December 21 and 27. At the event, the director had said, “Children who want to see meaningful films are not able to, because of the over-priced tickets and the visual effect market has taken over the meaningful cinema for children category films.”

Tigmanshu Dhulia
Tigmanshu Dhulia

Speaking to hitlist about his resolve to promote the genre, he says, “More films catering to children should be made. Given the kind of society we are living in, we need to educate our children more. And cinema has been a great source of learning for decades.”

Lack of incentive
Tigmanshu believes the industry has almost neglected the genre. He says, “With regard to this subject not being encouraged, the problem is that commercial films have taken over the market and there is no life for films in this category — you won't get a distributor, which would further result in getting very few screens and odd show timings. It will ultimately lead to box office failure. I won't say there is no audience for children's films, but our mediums restrict us. So, filmmakers see it as a risk.”

Bikas Ranjan Mishra
Bikas Ranjan Mishra

Adulterated to sell
Bikas Ranjan Mishra, director of Chauranga which stars child artiste Sohum Maitra in the lead, argues that filmmakers try to package a children's film with commercial elements to sell them better. After a long struggle, his film has finally found a release date — January 2016. “Since we don't have a developed market for children's films, we club elements in our movies that help cater to the mainstream market. Our industry focusses more on stars, but then you cannot cast Salman Khan as a 14-year old kid. The logic of the industry is simple: either you make a film with a star or get a star to endorse your film. The industry is yet to come to terms with the fact that a film works because of its content and not merely because of stars,” he rues.

Amole Gupte
Amole Gupte

Proper exposure
Amole Gupte, who made the critically acclaimed Stanley Ka Dabba (2011), feels parents restrict children from getting exposed to many values of life, which, in turn, narrows down the scope of the genre. “But, today's kids are far more aware about various issues. So, parents should make sure that their wards watch certain films that will add to their knowledge. If that happens, there will be demand for the genre in the Hindi film industry,” he explains.

Echoing Gupte's thoughts, Bikas says that Gen Now has greater exposure and awareness regarding technology, politics and even subjects that were considered taboo when their parents were growing up. “They know about sex and have a different value system. So, if we don't expose them to modern thoughts systematically, they are going to learn them from the wrong mediums. In my film, my lead protagonist is shown to be fascinated by his biology books. He is particularly fascinated about women's bodies. I remember my biology teacher skipped those chapters.”

Hitlist suggests

Make your weekend worthwhile by catching up with these children’s movies in Hindi:
MAKDEE (2002)
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Plot: Little Chunni hatches a scheme to rescue her twin sister, Munni from the clutches of an evil witch who transformed the latter into a chicken.

Director: Nitesh Tiwari and Vikas Bahl
Plot: A gang of feisty kids take on the big bad world of politics when the life of one of their foe-turned-friends, Fatka — and that of his dog, Bhidu — is endangered.

I AM KALAM (2011)
Director: Nila Madhab Panda
Plot: Chhotu is inspired by India’s former President, late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and aspires to grow up to be a respectable person like him. The film chronicles his struggles to chase his dreams and how he surpasses the boundaries of reality.

Director: Amole Gupte
Plot: A student who never brings his own lunch box to school faces threats of being prevented from entering the campus, unless he mends his ways, and that has unexpected consequences for the entire school.

Director: Aamir Khan, Amole Gupte, Ram Madhvani
Plot: The bond between a young boy with dyslexia and his art teacher, who encourages him to explore his hidden talents, instead of becoming part of a rat race.

TAHAAN (2008)
Director: Santosh Sivan
Plot: A fable-like journey of an eight-year-old boy, whose life revolves around the pursuit to find real purpose in his little world.

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