Here’s yet another Nayana post, with due apologies. Mea culpa. But there is a children’s literature slant to it, so please just stay with me!
Ok, Nayana is one of those kids who hates TV, and will not watch cartoons or music TV (unless it’s specifically the picturisation of a song she likes – say Kajara re, or Bulla). But she’s got hooked on to an old NCERT-Films Division film made for good ol’ DD called Ek aur Anek. Many of you probably remember the short from your own childhoods. It’s got an unforgettable song that goes: bela, gulab, juhi, champa, chameli / phool hai anek kintu mala sirf ek hai. And it combines the Nehruvian ideals of socialism and secularism, along with a lesson in grammar!
Despite its vintage – the ’70s – the film is lovely little gem. It’s got a great narrative, fantastic art, and shrill as the soundtrack is, it’s also very catchy. Nayana watches it open-mouthed. She loves the didi and the kids and the whole shebang. Till, that is, the hunter shows up, and then she lurches back in Amit’s hand, terrified of the maan (‘man’). You can hear her heart beat faster and she cringes, till the birds fly off to get their nets cut by friendly mice. Then she’s happy and when the song goes chatur chidiya, sayaani chidiya, she triumphantly warbles along, shanaani chidiya… and that’s where this post gets its title.
I think what’s charming about this film is its narrative quality, which is layered and yet so easy to understand. And it’s refreshingly innocent. Is that communicated to Nayana somehow? Obviously she doesn’t understand the dynamics at play in the narrative.
But listening to the song and watching the kids play together, I’m sure we could all – like her – sense the joy, the wisdom and the hope!
For those of you who have the time and the inclination and broadband, download the video and get the lyrics here.