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Wednesday, January 25, 2006


An APTN feed this morning got me thinking.

Thinking about what I was doing when I was 10 years old.

I have a vague re-collection of running around the neighbourhood with the not quite adorable young gang that I then had. Playing stapu (that game where you draw boxes and getting that flat piece of stone kicked into the next one while doing a crane kinda jump with one leg - you get the idea - it's a carzy enough game) even in the rain, we simply put our rain-coats on, but nothing ever interrupted play. Barely finishing my homework despite the gazillion reminders from my stern teacher mom. Cat-fighting with my sister.

And when our house was being constructed we discovered the joy of jumping from the roof onto the sand that lay in a nice little heap for purely construction purposes. Buoyed by the success of that first jump, we soon started making some hard landings from the roof to the concrete floor right below another neighbour's house. It went on till one of the fierce neighbourhood uncles complained to our respective parents. That put an end to all our flights of fancy, we were grounded and the endless speeches on broken jaws, arms, legs with grim pictures that followed ensured that we never strayed from terra firma after that. Sometimes I wonder, if we really believed we could fly even without any wings of fancy!

For most of my childhood years, I didn't think there was a life beyond Dehra Dun's grand old Turner Road, where most of my wildest adventures were enacted and lived. Often the bunch of us cycled right up to the tunnel that demarcated the onward journey to Saharanpur. And our wildest adventures merely took us to the small stream beyond the Army Cantonment where I once lost my slipper. Sometimes on a Sunday, imagining ourselves to be straight out of a Famous Five book we even went fishing in the nalla behind our house. And some inspiration from Krishi Darshan saw us surging through the wheat fields with the angry farmer in tow. That was pretty much where the adventures began and ended.

Children these days are doing so much more. My six year old girl can swim, play tennis, sing Shubha Mudgal songs, jive to Salaam Namaste. My soon to be three old boy knows more about Thomas & Friends on the computer than I probably ever will in my living years. My daughter's brilliant pals often surprise me by reading National Geographic in one breath and at six I hadn't even got discovered Noddy!

But these are normal kids. I don't know what they will be doing four years from now.

I say that because a ten-year old in India is re-defining the very definition of a young film-maker. While most children are busy grappling with their home work and the innumerable enrichment lessons their parents sign them up for in the hope of making geniuses out of them, Kishan Srikanth is making his directorial debut with C/o Footpath.

When I first read the script, I was in a state of disbelief - yes, I frequently lapse into such states. How could a nine year old do it?

Here is someone who is directing none other than Jackie Shroff. One look at the pictures and the confident statements by the young one clearly showed this young one was seriousness personified.

The pictures (which are copyright protected) show that the actors can't help but look down on him - only because of the height differential. But make no mistake about who's in charge on the sets of C/o Footpath.

On first glance the story might sound simple. It is that of a poor orphan who dreams of studying but cannot afford to go to school. Kishan plays the lead himself and the story was inspired by conversations he had with children selling newspapers on the streets.

The story of how it all evolved from there is a tale in itself. With help from local journalists, he turned his short story into a screenplay. In fact, Jackie Shroff was so impressed when he first of it, he apparently asked for a role in the film, and waived his fee.

Guess that is what keeping the production costs down to US $180,000.

While the costs may be down, the pictures do speak a thousand words, Kishan who is no stranger to the film industry having acted in 24 movies and 1,000 episodes of a popular soap opera, is a boy clearly in control.

The fact that he researched the art of directing by reading books and watching DVDs on direction from the Hollywood film institute, makes his story even more impressive. While he might soon find a place in the record books, this budding auteur has his eyes set on being a full time film director.

And while C/o Footpath is being made in Kannada and will then be dubbed into several other languages, Kishan says his next movie will be in Hindi. Considering he has been inspired by 'Jurassic Park' and 'Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham' expect more than just songs, dance and action.

Bollywood, time to get that carpet out and get ready to roll in another new face of resurgent India!