Making of Little Dreamers | Film by Bela Raja

Little Dreamers - The Making

Our mornings at home are on the quiet side. The days pass peacefully and although we knew we could expect some disruptions by using my home as the location for filming this movie, nothing could have prepared any of us for the pure chaos and excitement that came with the 12 children of all ages and sizes with stars in their eyes, each hopeful little face shining with the thought “I’m going to be on T.V”. After 15 years of counselling children and their parents, this interaction was still a most colorful learning experience for me!

Children are children and somewhere, we forget that. Due to numerous adult insecurities, children are restricted from being what they are. When they entered the house, they were subdued yet wondrous because this experience was new to them. There were one or two professional actors among the youngsters who marched in confidently, put their bags down and stood there waiting for instructions.

I figured that I would have to ‘make friends’ with the children if I wanted them relaxed and natural so I set about to do that.

The Making

It is amazing at the ease with which children are ready to make friends. They don’t have any of the issues and hang-ups that we adults seem to have. As I approached them with some trepidation, they eyed me with caution. The little 5 year old came forth, holding a big white teddy bear almost as big as she was. I started talking to her about the teddy bear telling her his name was Barney. She asked me who did it belong to. I told her that it belonged to my daughters Avni and Abha (who are young adults now) and she was amazed to think that ‘adults’ could have ‘toys’. This broke the ice for after that, I had to deal with a clamour of questions and a request for more toys! One astute youngster wanted to know what experience I had in filmmaking. Another wanted to know whether there were going to be any fight sequences. A third child wanted to know what was for lunch…and so, on it went.

Each child was a perfect picture in his/her own way. The directors Tushar Ajgaonkar and Prashant Vadhyar were very child friendly and they soon got to know and understand the individual nuances that were a part of each child.

One little girl had to get down on her knees. She said that she couldn’t do that because her knees would get dirty…so, we had to put a cushion on the floor and then she knelt down in position for the shot.

Another youngster turned up his nose at the plate full of chocolate biscuits, enthusiastically put in front of him at snack time. "I don't like chocolate biscuits", he said, disdainfully. I exchanged glances with Prashant silently wondering, "What happened to children while we weren’t looking?"

The Making

Now, a particular young man, all of seven years, was required to enact a make believe conversation on an antique telephone for a shot. Normally, he is a child who talks nineteen to the dozen on a telephone. At this point somehow, with the receiver to his ear, he was tongue-tied. We thought it was the camera but it wasn’t. Finally I realized that he didn't know what to say because he had nobody on the other end to respond to. I went and hid behind the couch and started talking to him as if I was at the other end of the telephone line. The shot worked like a dream!

I thought of retaining the master bedroom as a sanctum sanctorum given the fact that the rest of the house had been converted into a topsy-turvy studio. It worked for the first day when the children were still new to the environment. As the days passed, each child developed the attitude of a veteran. One morning a youngster marched up to me and asked, "What is in that room?" I told him that it was the room where Hemang, my husband lived (considering the rest of the house had been taken over…). He said that he wanted to go and 'talk' to him. I had to let the child in. What ensued was a vigorous and intense discussion about the massage chair in the room. Very soon this little boy had Hemang starting up the massage chair for him and before we knew it, we had children lined up waiting for their turn on the 'ride'. Hemang was thoroughly enjoying himself…till the time the machine started heating up. He looked at me haplessly and asked, “What do I do?" I told him to turn off the mains and tell the children that the machine would not work for the rest of the day…but that was the end of the existence of the sanctum sanctorum! The next day, a little girl and a little boy came in for makeup since they were going to give the next shot. A friend had dropped in to see what was happening and he was discussing the price of the movie cameras with Hemang.

At the end of the day, Tushar came up to me and said, "You know, a very strange thing happened. While we were getting ready for the shot, the little girl enquired about the price of the cameras. I wonder what she was thinking of." I was aghast. She had overheard the conversation between Hemang and the friend and she promptly decided that she needed to find out. I made a mental note to be very careful about what we adults spoke of, in front of the children.

It had rained throughout the duration of the shoot and my daughter Avni, who is the teacher in the movie, could sense the restlessness in the children at being cooped up. Finally Tushar announced that the very last sequence would be down in the garden. I looked at him in disbelief. The garden was wet and soggy with mud puddles all over the place. Tushar smiled and said," The children will really have a ball."

It was like releasing a dozen racehorses. The children charged down the staircase and ran into the garden. Tushar and Prashant were standing on the edge, helping Jeetu (the DOP) capture this release of raw energy on camera. They ran and tumbled and skipped and climbed and cycled and jumped…one girl challenged another boy, "I dare you to jump into this mud puddle." The little boy cautiously looked around for signs of his mother and then 'whump', he sat down right in the middle of the mud puddle!

The Making

Here the children had found a place where they could do what children do, be what children inherently want to be, young eager minds wishing to explore the world around them with every sense that they have. They felt the wet mud under their bare feet. They smelt the fresh grass after the rain, they screamed in delight as they ran round and round the field with all their might just to test their own limits. It came as no surprise that by the end of it all, none of them wished to leave. Under the sky, in the mud and grass, they had found an environment, which truly let them be children.

After the children had gone home, at the end of the shoot schedule, past midnight, sitting exhausted on the sofas, one weary adult ventured to ask," What will we call the movie?"

My younger daughter Abha responded, "Little Dreamers, or should we say, Little Screamers?"

That is how 'Little Dreamers' came to be.

Bela Raja

Play Song

Abha Raja
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Written and composed by Abha Raja, 2006

The Cast & Crew

Direction & Screenplay Tushar Ajgaonkar & Prashant Vadhyar
Written by Bela Raja &
Prashant Vadhyar
DOP Jatinder Sharma
Editor Dattatraya Ghodke
Music Prashant Vadhyar & Vishal J Singh

Cast

Avni Raja Herin Yash
Netra Sakshi Akhil
Samarth Mitali Kreeshma
Kareena Ishaan Rishabh
Zalak

Reviews

  • Would you like to strengthen your child's reading, writing and math skills?

  • 'Little Dreamers' is a film that demonstrates effective techniques which can make learning productive and fun.

  • The film shows help your child develop efficient thinking skills. It explains how movement can be used to improve a child's concentration and focus.

  • Learn how you can tap your child's potential and help him/her become a creative and powerful learner!