Vote! The Best Children's Films!
For adults, children's films are a way of rekindling nostalgia -- of the times when they were kids with eyes sparkling with mischief. Which is why it's such a misnomer to say that children's films are targeted only at kids. On the contrary, on occasions, they contain more wisdom than any adult drama ever can.
In India, unlike the West, this genre hasn't been attempted often enough and that's a real pity.
However, filmmakers such as Vishal Bhardwaj, Amole Gupte, Shekhar Kapur and Gulzar have shown a continuous and keen interest in the children's genre.
With Chillar Party releasing today, here's our own list of the best children's films ever made. Click through the slide show and vote for your favourite at the end.
Mogambo took away a chunk of the attention but Shekhar Kapur's classic rests equally on its endearing innocence -- there's innocence in Anil Kapoor and Sridevi's constant bickering, in Calender's kitchen antics and in the dysfunctional editor's mad-cap telephone conversations.
To the sane mind, the invisible watch scheme still looks preposterous to base a whole plot on but when it comes to Mr India, logic and rationality can go to hell, for it epitomises the highest potboilerish summit. It's a film that leaves you not only with a smile but also with a message: Thode aansun hai, thodi hasee, Aaj gham hai toh kal hai khushi.
Image: A still from Mr India
Both went on to become anthems of their time. And of course, before Anil Kapoor fetched up as the kind-hearted foster parent to a pack of bubbly, adopted kids, there was Shammi Kapoor.
Brahmachari stands on the shoulders of Shammi's infectious charm. Every time the legend is humiliated you feel humiliated, every time his editor howls at him you wish ill on the editor and every time the Junglee star fails in his attempts to gather the mortgage money, you wish you could part with yours.
Image: A still from Brahmachari
One has never seen such sensitive treatment of infidelity and the need for acceptance before. It's a classic case of perfect casting -- Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi, though not on the best of terms during the shooting, look so real as if they are the neighbouring couple whose family is on the cusp of disintegration.
Urmila Matondkar and, in particular Jugal Hansraj, as the boy born to the deceased second mother, nurses a kind of hurt no emotional comfort could heal. Masoom would be nothing without its music by R D Burman and of course, the brilliant lyrics by Gulzar.
Image: A still from Masoom
Taare Zameen Par
No recent film had more heart than Taare Zameen Par.
It's a result of writer Amole Gupte's lifelong engagement with children. The screaming father who's only content when his kids achieve the top rank, the contrasting personalities of Yohaan and Ishaan, the latter's beautiful friendship with his teacher-mentor Nikhumb (Aamir Khan) and the final turnaround, Taare Zameen Par throws you back to the time you were a kid and you would have either been Yohaan or Ishaan.
That's the beauty of the characters fleshed out by Amole and director Aamir Khan; between them, you will get the archetypes of all school-goers.
Image: A still from Taare Zameen Par
Remade from a popular Malayalam film, Chhota Chetan is a story of school-going kids who discover the dhoti-clad Chetan, a wonder-boy with magical powers.
Chetan can, with a mere gesture of hands, turn a group of garish dancers into fairies. When Chetan blows powder, the spectators are comically disrobed at the dance show.
When a mischievous kid bothers Chetan's friend in class, he is punished with his pants being ripped apart. In another scene, a skeleton put up in the science class comes alive, scaring the daylights out of the teacher.
It's pure farce but it's enjoyable from start to finish. The South Indian feel to it enhances the experience. This is what you call pop 3D.
Image: A still from Chhota Chetan
The powerful Shikari Raja (Shatrughan Sinha) is on the trail of the elephant but Shibu is poised to put up a fight and save the animal from falling into the hands of the royal hunter.
Hugely entertaining, the underlying message of Safed Haathi lies in one of its songs in which it emphasises that animals don't hunt until they are hungry while men do it for pleasure. Safed Haathi is massively under-rated and must be re-released to a wider and more appreciative audience.
Image: A still from Safed Haathi
It also proves his sheer range as a storyteller. Makdee's strength rests on Shweta Prasad who plays the twin sisters much in the tradition of Seeta Aur Geeta.
Once, Munni (Shweta) mistakenly enters the haunted abode of the Witch (Shabana Azmi) and is turned into chicken. Chunni (Shweta) goes about looking for the chicken which she assumes is her sister to save her from the evil eye of the butcher (Makarand Deshpande). The endearing Mughal-e-Azam (Alaap Mazgaonkar) plays the perfect accomplice.
Image: A still from Makdee
Haathi Mere Saathi
The presence of the elephants lay heavily on the film. The story of an animal-lover and his favourite elephant, Haathi Mere Saathi is enjoyable even after 40 years.
Legend has it that Rajesh Khanna, then the superstar, requested Salim Khan to tweak the script taken from a South Indian movie. Salim involved Javed Akhtar and the two shook hands on this one. Rest is the stuff of legend.
Image: A still from Haathi Mere Saathi
Stanley Ka Dabba
Stanley Ka Dabba is simple cinema, of a story told simply. It has the stuff of life. Amole breaks the cruelty meted out to Stanley very gently in the end which is why it pains you more than it shocks.
The void Stanley feels throughout the film about his parents can never be filled yet he displays the determination of a mature adult. With his knack of storytelling, Stanley will grow up to be like Amole -- or like us, those in the business of words and ideas.
Image: A still from Stanley Ka Dabba
The Blue Umbrella
Here, Ruskin casts his observant eye on a girl and weaves a charming fable of a missing umbrella. The choice of an umbrella to narrate the story is fascinating, for the umbrella -- like in so many of M F Husain's works in which it symbolises its utility to everyone, especially the common man -- stands as a metaphor for sheltering greed.
Image: A still from The Blue Umbrella