Indian childrens' movies are not just about about puppies, animated street dogs and invisible superheroes, they are also about football, dyslexia and village governance!
SHYAMCHI AAI (1953) – Marathi – Based on the autobiographical story of social activist and writer, Sane Guruji, the movie is about a mother who inculcates morals and values in her son even as the family is sinking into poverty.
MY DEAR KUTTICHATHAN /CHOTA CHETAN (1984/2011) – Malayalam/Hindi - This was India's first 3D production and a digitized updated version was released more recently. Three children come across a friendly little spirit generically called Kuttichathan who awes them with his magic tricks and becomes their playmate. But the evil sorcerer who owns Kuttichathan has other plans for him.
MR. INDIA (1987) – Hindi - Arun, who runs a shelter for orphaned children, is barely able to make ends meet. He finds an invisibility watch invented by his father and decides to fight anti-social elements by becoming a superhero called Mr. India, upsetting the sinister Mogambo's plans to take over India.
HALO (1996) – Hindi – An adorable puppy strays into the life of lonely motherless seven year old Sasha. She names him Halo and he becomes the focus of all her attention. When Halo disappears, Sasha goes to great lengths to find him.
MAKDEE (2002) – Hindi - Chunni agrees to an evil witch's demands for one hundred hens in exchange for turning her twin sister Munni back from hen to girl. When the witch claims to have turned her school teacher into a puppy, Chunni suspects that something is not quite right.
TAARE ZAMEEN PAR (2007) – Hindi - Fed up of trying to discipline eight year old daydreaming Ishaan, his father sends him off to boarding school. There, an unconventional art teacher realises that the boy is dyslexic and takes him under his wing to nurture his exceptional art talent.
ROADSIDE ROMEO (2008) – Hindi - When Romeo, a pet dog raised in the lap of luxury is thrown out on to the streets, he joins the local dog gang. Romeo falls in love with a singing dog called Laila and with a little help from his new friends, manages to escape the dog-catcher too.
PASANGA (2009) – Tamil - Anbu, the new boy in class wins the hearts of the students and the approval of his teachers, annoying his classmate Jeeva no end. The boys vie with each other, even dragging their parents into the fray.
PUTTANI PARTY (2009)– Kannada - This film is about the impact of one village's elected childrens' committee in tackling social ills like alcoholism with spunk and determination.
LITTLE ZIZOU (2009) – English/Gujarati/Hindi – Siblings Xerxes and Art are caught in the crossfire between their father, a man-of-faith Khodaiji and the newspaper publisher, Pressvala. A funny story of families and conflicts set in the Parsi community in India.
An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's May 2013 Issue.