Relieving childhood stories via digital entertainment

13 . Jul . 2017
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The best gift to the coming generation will always be stories. So many popular Indian and English writers have shaped our childhood but unfortunately we couldn’t experience the same magic on screen for all the engrossing stories we read. Now all that can change. Children’s literature can sweep kids off the floor with their imagination once again. This time not just via books but also through intelligently made web series.

Quite honestly we do not have much web content yet for children when it comes to Indian Digital Entertainment. Since Web is the future and every genre is competing for a good spot, why should children be left behind?

Here are a range of Indian and English authors that have coloured my childhood myriad. They would arguably make for creative children’s web series.

Munshi Premchand Short Stories

The language Hindustani lost its glory with the onslaught of British colonization. Generation after generation got baptized by the new language keeping aside books in Hindi and Urdu in the second rung after English.  A great way of redirecting the interest back among children for Hindi literature could be by making web series on popular children’s literature. Munshi Premchand is one such writer whose stories impeccably serve the purpose. Premchand has been the quintessential vernacular children’s read for all of Hindi heartland. Though I lived in Bengal, as a child I remember being introduced to Idgah, of course a translated version, which changed my life completely. Never overtly complicated or very difficult to read, Premchand’s short stories taught children what they wouldn’t learn anywhere else. School kids would be excited beyond words to watch on the digital screen what they have read in their school syllabi. Adults nonetheless fond of the writer’s brilliant works would get nostalgic watching what shaped their literary minds right from the beginning.

So, a win-win for all the audience ranging from any age group, Munshi Premchand’s short stories should be made into a web series, not just for its merit but also it’s cinematic quality.

From Idgah to Pariksha,  Panch Parmeshwar, Do Bail, Shatranj ke Khiladi, Nimantran and many many others, the writer’s shorts stories are undisputed perfect for digital entertainment for children.

Feluda Series

Did you know that Sherlock Holmes has an Indian version? Well it exists and it is stunning. And it is created by none other than the brilliant Satyajit Ray.

The celebrated Indian film director and writer was deeply besotted with detective stories. His interest in crime fiction led him to devour all of Sherlock Holmes while in school itself. Utterly inspired by Sherlock Holmes, he had written a series on a fictional Bengali private investigator Feluda or Prodosh Chandra Mitra, who also uses the anglicized name Pradosh C. Mitter.

Feluda’s character resembles Sherlock Holmes and Tapesh or Topshe, his young cousin takes roughly after Dr. Watson.

With no intention to hide the similarities, Ray portrayed Feluda as a big admirer of Sherlock Holmes, which is reiterated by the sleuth time and again in the novels he stars.

Similar to Sherlock’s Baker Street, Feluda lives at 21 Rajani Sen Road, Ballygunge, who made his debut in an extremely coveted Bengali children’s magazine called Sandesh in 1965.

Imagine if made into a well-created web series, the inroad Feluda could create for children into Popular Bengali Children’s Detective content.

Sheikh Chilli

Why did children across generations like Sheikh Chilli? Answers could be many. He was a simpleton but very popular among his friends. He was a daydreamer. It could be his queer appearance. Or may be because he was portrayed as an innocent fool. All of these attributes made him highly entertaining for his readers, especially children.

These days we don’t hear much about this strange character so this could be the right time to bring him back in a new and improved avatar for a children’s web series.  If Sheikh Chilli’s foolishness and often-laughable antics have made him a favorite with generations of children once, the present day kid’s ribs too could go crackling. Sheikh Chilli’s character will be an undoubted hit since he never cared about laws of nature. And what more do children like than a funny rebel.

He built castles in the air and created illusionary businesses or growing empires, setting him apart from the crowd. Our man often became a prince and in the end married a princess. When the castle would vanish, Sheikh Chilli would always find himself to be the center of laughter and jokes. This is in fact the secret formula of good storytelling and you can’t deny, we all have a Sheikh Chilli inside ourself.

The Hardy Boys

I was addicted to Hardy Boys as a kid. If I understood the meaning of Pulp Fiction in its primitive form, for the first time, it was through the series. My parents or teachers never recommended me one. Could be owing to the violence in the content or because they simply saw it as literary garbage. The Hardy Boys none-the-less successfully hooked a readership based on a child’s interpretation of the 1920s and 1930s gritty, no-nonsense world.

Frank, Joe, and their friends didn’t revere the authorities much. Understandably, they functioned as fearless private eyes often taking justice into their own hands. Disrupted by policemen and even put behind bars, The Hardy Boys kept coming back to solve over 500 cases.

This popularity can be tapped into a web series, and with a lot of caution, adapted with an Indian context and background.

Nancy Drew Series

I can recall Nancy Drew to be my lunchtime accompaniment right up-to my middle school, even later. The books were extensively revised and shortened and therefore had the appeal of junk food when we wanted something quick, quirky and engaging.

Nancy was a fictional American character in a mystery series that appeared in the 1930s and became a rage. Ghost-written by a number of authors and published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene, Nancy adapted to popular American culture over the decades. The longest-running series of books to feature Nancy Drew is the original Nancy Drew series and a web-series on that in the contemporary metropolitan set up in our country could do for digital entertainment what the Nancy Drew Stories did for children’s popular fiction.

Famous Five Series

If you haven’t heard of The Famous Five, you are missing out on more than you can imagine. The stories take place during the school holidays of the five children, after they have returned from their respective boarding schools, each time to find themselves in the midst of an adventure. As well as I can remember, School libraries always fell short of supplying books from the series by the exceptional writer Enid Blyton.

Either by exposing criminals or by locating lost treasure, the five children would every time take us on a trip to remember.

With rural settings, drawing the children’s attention to the simple joys of cottages, islands, the countryside and sea shores, the stories can never go wrong in invoking wanderlust.

Tempering the plots with an outdoor life of picnics, lemonade, bicycle trips and swimming, this series can be a picture perfect pitch for an Indian web series.

Wouldn’t you like to watch some of these stories take life? I sure would. And thank God for the digital medium, almost all of these and more can be created for audiences ranging every age and kind. Children of course would feel the luckiest with so much web content dedicated to them.