Baaja (2002)

Language: Hindi
Starring : Yakub Sheikh, Ram Awana, Saroj Bhargav
Director: AK Bir

Baaja_2002.jpeg

At times, no amount of advice, reasoning or reprimanding gets a child to act than their own realization of the situation. AK Bir’s Baaja tells the story of 11-year-old Shibu (Sheikh), who when faced with unexpected circumstances discovers his true caliber and learns an important life lesson.

A thoughtful, carefree boy, Shibu is sent off by his mother to live with his uncle’s family in the city and study. Reluctant to leave his old village life behind and struggling to accept his new environs, Shibu remains restless and sometimes belligerent — much to the discontentment of his guardians. Shibu’s only source of comfort is a mouth organ, which he won in a game of dare from another boy who handed it to him grudgingly.

When tasked by his uncle to deliver a pair of mended shoes to a client’s house, Shibu sets out on a tour of sorts around this new unexplored city with his dear mouth organ for company. Following the city-through-a-child’s-eyes theme, the audience travel through the narrow alleys of Shibu’s dingy colony, streets bustling with activity and general air of city life, neatly planned upscale localities, and stony paths of modest old neighbourhoods.

As the young boy observes the various vignettes of life, he comes across people — both kind and cunning, amiable and apprehensive. Shibu’s day takes an adventurous turn when he finds an old lady and her grandchild — who he had befriended earlier — in a precarious condition. With some quick thinking Shibu gives first aid to the grandma left injured by a burglar, tends to the frightened infant, and rushes for help.

Even as he receives no response from the unmindful neighbours, Shibu doesn’t lose composure. The plucky young boy, despite his unfamiliarity with the surroundings, decides to take charge of the baby and seek medical assistance.

Shibu’s presence of mind saves the grandma’s life and thwarts anything unfortunate happening to the baby. His savviness and benevolence wins Shibu admiration and good will. The young boy is, while elated with the happy ending, also ends up learning an important life lesson.

Awards: National Film Award for Best Children’s Film (Year 2003)

Watch: Baaja

Advertisements

Aw Aakare Aa / A, B, She (2003)

Language: Odia
Cast: Adyasha Mohapatra, Debu Bose, Diptimayee Panda
Director: Subas Das

Aw Akare Aa

If a man eats two sweets in two minutes, then the math says he consumes one sweet in a minute. But what if he gobbles up more than one sweet in that one minute? These are the kind of questions that dog the young mind of Mini (Mohapatra), the protagonist of Aw Aakare Aa. And the conventional curriculum driven education system doesn’t do much to satisfy her curiosity.

Should one take textbook questions just as they are — set and formulaic? Does our educational system welcome alternative thinking and unconventional questions? For a country obsessed with marks and reserving a child’s competence to result cards, Aw Aakare Aa explores these questions with great simplicity.

A motherless child, Mini is restless and full of questions. On visiting her grandfather in the village, this inquisitive girl discovers the joys and mysteries of nature. Far from the dreariness of classroom teaching, memorizing lessons and appearing for exams, Mini gathers new interests. She excels at flying kites, learns to climb trees and catch fish.

When the world makes her weary, the little girl finds supports in her imaginary teacher, Miss Mini. Away from yelling teachers and boring classes, Miss Mini takes her out in the open fields, where games replace homework, lessons are shared with songs and dance, and learning is fun.

As the little Mini grows up, she still finds herself struggling with a flawed education system — only now as a teacher. Unable to conform to constricted ideas of teaching and learning, she charts a new territory for herself and her students.

Aw Aakare Aa is a sincere effort that questions the drudgery of classroom teaching and emphasizes on the need of harboring unorthodox ideas in the process of learning.

Awards: National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Odia (Year – 2003)

Trailer: Aw Aakare Aa / A, B, She