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New reality shows for Indian kids

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Delhi (UNI): Amid a plethora of children programmes with Western sensibilities dominating the scene, a host of new television shows come as a "breath of fresh air' with a content aimed at creating a feeling of identification among Indian kids.

Close on the heels of 'L'il Champs' on Zee TV, 'Rin Tera Mera Superstar', Shaka la Ka Boom Boom' on Star plus and 'Chacha Chaudhry' and 'Tenali Raman' on cartoon network, a new TV series featuring muppet stories, live action films and short animation films that showcase this life of Indian children, is being aired on the small screen.

Colorful stories which showcase experiences of children living in different parts of India and in the process put across the message of tolerance for cultures with diverse lifestyles and customs form part of 'Galli Galli Sim Sim', a new show being aired on the Cartoon network and the Doordarshan National network.

Being telecast on the Cartoon Network in the afternoon slot and Doordarshan on prime time, 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' is inspired by the award-winning children's series Sesame Street, which has entertained children in different parts of the world for the last 35 years.

The show deals with life on the 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' (Sim Sim street) where four colorful Muppet characters Chamki, Aanchoo, Googly and Boombah (drawn from 'Sesame Street' but adapted suitably to reflect Indian sensibilities) live in perfect harmony with several human characters representing different genders, regions and religions. 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' has been produced for the turner International network by nonprofit educational organisation - Sesame Workshop, in association with Miditech, the Delhi based company which has earlier produced shows like Indian Idol, fame Gurukul and most recently, the 'Pogo Mazing kids Awards'.

''By showing the various residents of the Galli as hailing from different backgrounds representing the microcosm of India- Basha is a Muslim married to Dawa Di, who is from North East India; another resident Col. Pinto, a retired army person, is a Christian married to Rukmini, a Hindu and a doctor by profession - the series aims to showcase the messages of diversity and tolerance for persons from different cultures and with diverse lifestyles,'' says the supervising producer of the show Pria Somiah.

''What makes 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' different from the other muppet shows and cartoons being aired on various television channels is the fact that unlike other programmes, it is a children's series that combines entertainment with a social cause. For the first time on Indian television, this show carries strong social message dealing with issues like diversity, varied disabilities, protecting the environment and respecting the rights and needs of others,'' she said.

''The Galli is a safe place where everyone is an equal citizen - children, muppets and adults. It's a fun show that subtly encourages children to discover their individuality and respect the individuality of others,''Pria said.

Through showcasing experiences of children in different regions of India, the series aims to build bridges between urban and rural India. It brings to light the fun and frolic that children have in rural areas that excites urban kids and vice versa. In fact, the programme focuses on what unites children of India rather than what divides them, with respect of diversity in culture such as language, social skills and unfamiliarity.

''One of our goals is to demonstrate India's rich cultural heritage and diversity on 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' through the colourful characters, engaging storylines, wonderful music, and new live action and animation films,'' said Niret Alva, President, Miditech and Executive Producer of the series.

''Galli Galli Sim Sim, with all its humour and interactivity, encourages children to explore the world outside their window,'' he said.

She said 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' was the first children series in India with a completely Indianised content.

'' For one, each of the characters have Indian nuances both in their physical appearances, as well as their personalities. In addition to encouraging young children to learn basic cognitive and numeracy skills, the neighborhood friends will represent the vibrancy of India's multi-culturalism, celebrating the diversity that are a part of children's everyday lives. In fact, 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' is a part of an endeavour by Turner Network to present Indianised content to ildren in India,'' she said.

Over the last year, Cartoon Network and Pogo have launched several shows as part of their efforts to 'Indianise' their content including 'Tenali Raman', Akbar Aur Birbal' and the 'Pogo Amazing kids award'.

The producers feel that shows like 'Galli Galli Sim Sim', 'Tenali Raman' and 'Akbar Aur Birbal' could, in days to come, become an asset to Indian kids' education as well as provide a new direction in teaching kids to love, understand and celebrate India's diversity and rich culture.

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