Children's films: Bollywood wakes up from its slumber

By Hindustan Times

Once upon a time, films catering to children remained in the precincts of parallel and serious cinema in Bollywood. Over the years, the genre has undergone a seachange, with many filmmakers entwining emotional and educational themes into commercial entertainers not just for children, but for adult viewers as well.

In the past decade, filmmakers have tried to cater to children with animation projects like My Friend Ganesha, Bal Ganesh, Hanuman, Hanuman Returns and Ghatothkach. But they have also experimented with children-related, issue-based themes like Taare Zameen Par and Stanley Ka Dabba to strike a chord with youngsters.

On the occasion of Children's Day Monday, IANS lists a few children's films that either tugged at the viewers' heartstrings, or claimed box office success or even garnered critical acclaim.

Mr India (1987) - At the core, this cult classic was a sci-fi superhero film, but the magic and thrill behind Anil Kapoor's invisibility act, and the emotional angle of over a dozen orphaned children, made this Shekhar Kapur directed movie much loved by children.

Halo (1996) - A heart-wrenching tale, Halo traces the journey of seven-year-old lonely girl Sasha, who believes a street dog, whom she adopts and names Halo, is a god-sent miracle. What happens when the dog gets lost, and Sasha traverses the streets of Mumbai in search of the pooch, forms the rest of the story of this Santosh Sivan-directed, National award-winning film.

The Blue Umbrella (2007) - Vishal Bharadwaj bagged the National Award for Best Children's Film for the film, based on Ruskin Bond's story. It narrated a simple yet touching tale of a girl who buys a Japanese blue-coloured umbrella and becomes the centre of attraction in her village.

Taare Zameen Par (2007) - Aamir Khan proved how emotional tales for children and about children can break box office records too. A poignant story of a dyslexic child, who overcomes his learning disability thanks to a supportive teacher, Taare Zameen Par won hearts, critical acclaim and box office success alike. It netted Rs.770 million in its fourth week.

Paathshaala (2010) - The film opened to mixed reviews, but managed to drive home a comment on the Indian education system and its shortcomings. This Shahid Kapoor-starrer dealt with the issue of schools pushing students into TV reality shows and other media outlets to garner a popular public image, and how it impacts young minds.

Stanley Ka Dabba (2011) - Amole Gupte earned critical acclaim for bringing the sensitive, teacher-student relationship to the big screen with the story of a boy, his empty lunch box, his friends and a 'khadoos' Hindi teacher. Children found an instant connect to the film thanks to the camarederie between the young actors, and adults went down memory lane with it.

Chillar Party (2011) - A subtle story about a gang of innocent children who stand up against a politician and save a street dog's life. The film tugged at many hearts as children enjoyed it for its fun moments and the elders appreciated for its message on the class difference in Indian society.

Zokkomon (2011) - This Darsheel Safary-starrer aimed at being a superhero film with the youngest superhero in the world. A live action adventure about an ordinary boy who faces extraordinary challenges with his superpowers, the film opened to mixed feedback, but kids enjoyed it for its stunts.

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