Children demand right to entertainment

MUMBAI: "There is a dearth for good kids' programmes and movies in our country" was a fact that was reiterated time and time again on the second day's session on 'kids' programming: A child's right to entertainment', at Frames 2003.

The speakers included City Pride director Prakash Chapalkar, New Era school principal Gool Ghadiyali, DECODE Entertainment executive producer Neil Court and Gulzar.

'Children's right to entertainment' was driven home to the audience by kids themselves through delightful mime enactment which stressed that they do not need the predictable Hindi films as the only means of entertainment but want programmes that they would be able to relate to, programmes that do not talk down to them but talk to them. Footage of CFSI movies like Malli, The Goal (which incidentally won the National award) and Kabhi pass Kabhi Fail were shown to bring to light the steps taken by them in this direction.

The session moderated by Children Film Society of India (CFSI) chairperson Sai Paranjpye conspicuously focused on marketing CFSI movies and the milestones achieved by them. What needs to be done at the television front was an area that was completely ignored.

Emphasizing the fact that entertainment of the right kind is crucial for kids wellbeing, she pointed out various problems faced by the CFSI which need to be addressed immediately

* Inadequate financing for children's movies. Since CFSI functions under the government, it has a meager budget of Rs 3.5 million for a 90-minute film.

* How does one decide the language in which these films should be made so that it reaches the desired audience?

* Inadequate finances affect the quality of movies churned out. CFSI is unable to deliver movies like Shrek or Lion King due to its inability to fund technical extravaganzas and special effects.

* Distribution of children's movies is a major stumbling block. ·* One cannot charge a child more than five rupees for a children's movie, thus making the prospect of making such movies financially unviable.

* Inability to promote /market the movies.

Highlighting the CFSI's milestones, Paranjpye elaborated on the recent acquisition of five Iranian films, which have been dubbed into Hindi. " We need to provide kids with a variety of programmes centered around diverse topics like adventure, sports to name a few. Value based films are not the only mode of entertainment for kids," she said.

In an effort to call upon distributors for CFSI films, she stressed: " 34 per cent of the population is below 14 years of age. This segment will be the future customers, so investing on them and their requirements is not be a bad business proposition at all."

New Era school principal Gool Ghadiyali presented her views about what was lacking in kids entertainment today. "With parents glued to soaps on television, the child is left with no option but to watch these serials. Serials where women are depicted either as evil human beings, forever conspiring or are shown crying for whatever reason. Children pick up these ideas, which is indeed unfortunate."

"It is now a necessity to have good films which have a story to tell, good ambience, absolute identification with children and known actors and actresses to interest the kids,"she added.

City Pride director Prakash Chapalkar delved into the exhibitor's perception of distributing children films. Interestingly, he pointed out: " One should not look forward to making revenue from children's films. No commercialization of the movies should be allowed. As in while showing the movie you cannot have companies dealing in kids' products advertising and promoting their stuff."

Interestingly, students too presented their demands to the forum. Their demands centred around

* Out of 100 channels, there are only two - Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon for kids

* The eternal debate - are movies the only form of entertainment for kids and are there any movies just for kids * Why can't there be some movie channels catering solely to kids choice?

* All Hollywood kids movies are readily available in video libraries, Why not CFSI movies?

DECODE Entertainment executive producer Neil Court spoke about the kids TV business in Europe and US and how it was undergoing a crisis, due to faltering economies of the west. "Due to the slump in the market, there is a decline in special programmes, as a result advertising has fallen and to allocate the limited budget, kids programmes are the usual sufferers," he added. Talking about the potential of animation industry and its growth in India he said that his company DECODE was keen on expanding its operations in the country.

The session was aptly summarized by famous lyricist, poet, director and producer Gulzar when he said " Entertainment for children should be such that it captures and holds his attention with pleasure. We need to make films with a passion, zeal and honesty that would truly entertain a child. Panchatantra has been handed down generations for now, but unfortunately its narration has not changed. We need to realize that the children of today are aware of things around them and can no longer be taken for granted."

He also called upon CFSI to take up the responsibility of making films that would appeal not only to the kids but their parents as well.

He also called upon CFSI to take up the responsibility of making films that would appeal not only to the kids but their parents as well.

However the how good were these CFSI movies was brought under serious doubt when Sahara TV's commissioning editor Ashok Agarwal pointed out that the run of CFSI movies on the channel for a year received very poor ratings when compared to the Simba series and other kids programmes on the channel.

Now isn't that food for thought?


The session: Kids Programming: A child's right to entertainment.

Moderator: Children Film Society of India Chairperson Sai Paranjpye

The speakers: filmmakers Gulzar, City Pride Director Prakash Chapalkar, DECODE Entertainment executive producer Neil Court, Turner International India managing director Anshuman Misra, New Era School principal Gool Ghadiyali

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