It's storytime with aaji
A Navi Mumbai filmmaker's freewheeling chat with his 85-year-old grandma offers warmth and nostalgia to tide over these tough times
The pandemic may have toppled his plans of trotting across the globe and creating travel vlogs. But little did Navi Mumbai-based Swaroop Kolekar imagine that his most cherished work would find its genesis right at home. Confined indoors, shuttling between online classes and preparing for his exams, he decided to mount his phone and a DSLR on a tripod and point it towards his 85-year-old grandmother to create a unique idea.
No scripts, no rehearsals. Just a freewheeling chat titled Gappa Goshti with Majhi Aaji. (Stories with my Grandmother). Dressed in a traditional cotton saree, hair in a neat bun and a small bindi on her forehead, Sulochana Gopinath Kolekar is effortlessly adorable on camera. She doesn't bite her tongue while picking her favourite grandchild or shy away from speaking about her dislike towards school at a young age.
A still from the video
"She may have been a Class 5 dropout, but she remembers every single poem and lessons from that time. An avid reader, she's even read close to 200 Marathi books till date," Kolekar tells us. The video is filled with heartwarming moments; we chuckled when she recalled an anecdote of her interaction with British officials as a 12-year-old. In 1947, when the Raj was almost on its way out, and the country was on the cusp of Independence, a few officials who were her father's friends would delightfully call her 'Hey baby,' she shares, adding how it fascinated her.
Kolekar shares the idea behind this project, "My aaji has taught me life lessons that made sense when I was seven, and I know would just as much, even when I am 50." In June, when Sulochana, who hails from Ratnagiri, suffered a mild heart attack, her children and grandchildren insisted she move to Mumbai to be around family. "When she first came home, she couldn't even walk without assistance. But in the last few months, as her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered around the family table and spent time with her, she made a speedy recovery."
While the elders nursed her back to health, the younger ones would spend time with her playing Ludo, watching IPL matches and cooking her favourite Maggi. "When she recovered and wanted to return to Ratnagiri because she missed her life back there, I decided to document a few memories." Back in Ratnagiri now, this was Sulochana's parting gift.
The crisp five-minute film by Kolekar has garnered positive responses on Instagram. "The likes and comments didn't matter. People were sharing the video because it had inspired them to call their grandparents, and tell them how much they missed them," he signs off.
Log on to @swaroopkolekarr on Instagram
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