Recreating Malgudi Days in Covid Times
Created by Sree Nair Updated on Jul 07, 2020
"Amma", my 10-year-old son, Manish called out to me last week. Well, hearing this for the 1000th time in a day (yes, underplayed the number), I continued with scheduling and preparing online class content for my students, in mock silence.
"Ammaaaaaaaaaaaa", Well, the unwritten rule is, when the number of "aa"'s in Amma increase, then I better respond. So, I mumbled, "Yes, sonny" What's it?"
"Amma, have you forgotten WE need to do something about the school assignment on the story script?"
"WE"? Since when did I get into this new venture?"
"Oh, Amma"! Please help me! I really cannot think of what to do about the script!"
And thus began "OUR” assignment. Well, yes, when you are a mom, you don’t have much choice or option in these things, right?
Introducing "Malgudi Days" and the brilliant writer R.K. Narayan to my son was a great idea. He identified so much with the 10-year-old Swami, his conflicts and camaraderie at school, his vivid imagination, which runs riot, and the closeness he shares with his grandmother.
So much so that when it finally came to the "script -writing of an excerpt from a book you enjoyed reading"; yes that was the said assignment, Sonny could do it effortlessly.
When you involve children in role-plays, a dramatization of stories, you are in effect involving all their senses. Play enacting entails a multi-sensorial technique and in comparison to just making them read a book, it makes the child so much more absorbed into the role, the background setting, the costumes, the dialogues and subtle nuances of the characters in the story. It’s worth the effort.
On a different note, Swami's grandmother, a widow confined to a dimly lit, ill-ventilated room, with no source of entertainment, longing for the time she gets with her innocent grandson, triggered a lot of empathy. In these times of lockdown, little contact with the outside world and a grim reality facing all of us, my heart goes out to widows like this grandmother, who in the olden times, no matter how young, were shunned into dark corners of their houses with little or no social contact.
Please watch : Malgudi video 2
We shot this scene in a dingy area of our house, where we store old and unused things. It’s not a comfortable place to shoot, but, it was perfect to get the old-world feel to the story. Sonny insisted we need to have a “Diya” as a light source, and it did help in getting a nighttime aura to the scene. An old metal trunk was used as a background object, a woven mat was spread on the floor to sit and some brass accessories helped in re-creating that retro look.
(This video was shot using a mobile camera and the effects were added using a basic editing app. Nothing fancy!)