Children’s Day is a good time to acknowledge the vastness of a child’s imagination, and the unexplored worlds that lie within. Here is our pick of some of the best films made about children and their untold stories of hope, joy and struggles.
Taare Zameen Par: This film was based on decades of research compiled by Amole Gupte and was finally produced by Aamir Khan who also took directorial credit. This 2007 path-breaking film explored the unaddressed issue of dyslexia in children and the insensitivity that they have to face at school and at home from adults who cannot understand why they cannot excel in academics. The film also showed how the unique talents of children remain stunted due to emotional neglect and academic stress. Darsheel Safary played young Ishaan with great sensitivity while Aamir Khan played his empathetic teacher. The film won the National Best Film Award on Family Welfare among many others.
Hamid: This Yoodlee production asks what happens to a child’s sense of wonder when the family unit is broken by tragedy, a father disappears, a mother is weighed down by grief and the world seems cruel and cold. Directed by Aijaz Khan, the film is an adaptation of the play Phone No. 786 by Mohd. Amin Bhat. It narrates how seven-year-old Hamid dials the divine number 786 to get some answers from God and what unfolds then is both heartbreaking and uplifting. The film stars Rasika Dugal, Vikas Kumar and Talha Arshad Reshi and went on to win the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Urdu with Reshi also winning the National Film Award for Best Child Artist.
Stanley Ka Dabba: This Amole Gupte film poignantly depicts the fate of children who don’t have a support system to nourish them and deal with neglect, poverty and for whom even a nourishing tiffin box is a distant dream. Starring Divya Dutta, Partho Gupte, Divya Jagdale, Raj Zutshi, and Amole himself in a hilarious cameo of a greedy school teacher, the film tugged at many heart-strings and sensitised the audience to the tragedy of child labour. The story is about Stanley who studies in an all-boys school and is never able to bring a lunch box. This spirals into a major conflict between him and a Hindi teacher who not only appropriates the food brought by other kids but resents the fact that they would rather share their food with Stanley than with him. Partho went on to win the National Film Award for Best Child Artist.
K.D. : This Yoodlee production tackles the theme of innocence, ageism, human connection and loneliness. Written and directed by Madhumita, the film tells the story of Karuppu Durai (Mu. Ramasamy), an ailing patriarch who wakes up from a coma, and realises that his children (except his youngest) want to euthanize him. He escapes in an attempt to save his life and ends up befriending an orphan named Kutti (Naga Vishal) who names him K.D. Together, they begin the quest of a lifetime to fulfil wishes, live dreams, bond with each other and forge a connection that they have missed all their life with one another. Naga Vishal went on to win the National Award for Best Child Artist.
Chillar Party: Produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Salman Khan, this comedy directed by Nitesh Tiwari and Vikas Bahl captured the bonhomie within a group of kids who bridge the gap between privilege and need. The story begins when the children from a building society befriend an orphan and his dog and battle the evil design of a politician who wants to rid the city of all stray dogs. The film showed us with big dollops of humour and charm, how a little warmth, compassion and empathy can make the world livable both for humans and animals. One of the best ensemble narratives about children, ‘Chillar Party’ won the 2011 National Film Award for Best Children’s Film and still remains a family favourite.