So it is possible!

5:05 PM

This past Friday, Ishita had her annual da in school, and for those not familiar with the concept, this is a dance show put together for the parents. i have been through two of them in the previous schools, and those who have been reading me for a while might remember that I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the recurrent Bollywood theme the past two shows I have been subjected to had. i will not say it enough, there is something seriously wrong asking 2-3 years old to dance on songs that are part of grown up movies.
I sadly learned that it was a trend going in almost every school, the easy option, the one that wont need much thought and still make the parents happy (except that a quick informal poll among all my friends with kids revealed we really all agree on the tacky-inappropriateness of it). So much so that I was kind of expecting something similar this year and just didn’t even probe further the instant we got informed the day would come. Ishita kept saying something about dancing on a tune that went leelaleela lee even mimicking the tune, which I was sure I heard before but could really not place, she showed me some hand waving and cute little twirling that seemed to point in the direction of a less obscene dancing style (the hip twisting she picked up last year still haunts me), this gave me hope, but I did not dare kid myself into thinking she would be doing anything that didn’t involve some filmy number.
Came Wednesday, and she came home with her costume (which cost us 350 rupees of rental), and I was pleasantly surprised to see a green velvet jumpsuit with green faux fur trimming in the bag, it looks like a funky teddy bear outfit and the absence of sequins and frill did raise my hope a bit further, the last time i checked green teddy bears were not part of any Bollywood number I knew of, could it be that we would get something age appropriate this year in her new school? A quick check in her school diary where the teacher mentioned a a “tree” costume had been sent along seemed to confirm that…my daughter was not going to be a skimpy back up dancer but a TREE this year…a TREE, as in woodland creature fantasy fun kids appropriate tree.

Came Friday and I was instructed to drop her at 1pm to school so the kids would get their make up done by the teacher, the scene was a sight for sore eyes, all around were kiddos dressed as trees, lions, zebras, peacocks, tribal dwellers, and the entrance of the school was decorated with jungle animals…of course the invite I received a day earlier clued us in on what the theme was: Jungle Safari. So yes the annual day this year was to be a fun animal theme to which all the kiddos could actually relate, left me eager to see it to be frank. And the show was awesome, Ishita was part of a troop of dancing tree that opened the show. The song however had nothing to do with trees, it was a techno-dance song in French that had not much to do with nature, but had a very catchy tune and no obscene content, innocent and fun. I didn't know the artiste, but I heard it before, and a quick Google search including a line from the lyrics along with li la li la li did immediately point me to the right direction, the tile of the song is “Li La Li” (original huh?) and the artist is Kim Kay (I’ll let you do the search to find it). At the end of her dance some of the tribal dwellers came with hatchets to cut the trees and the narrator said something about not cutting trees because they are our friends, then the parents were asked to watch a short presentation on a side screen about the cause of deforestation and what we can do to prevent it. YES you read that right, they did put a show that had an intelligent message on top of being kids appropriate!

The rest of the show didn’t leave me a bad taste either, there was a nursery rhyme song in Hindi, another in English for the smaller playschool kiddos, there was “The lion sleeps tonight” (a classic jungle theme song), then there was “I like to move it” which was featured in the animated film Madagascar, a Indian music instrumental on which a class of little peacocks danced, even two songs sang by some of the older students (Sr Kg) and the only slightly “objectionable” song ended up being the Tarzan one by Aqua, I say slightly because it has some flirty innuendos, but compared to the number from the Vengaboys we had been submitted to the year before in the old school…this one is tame and the choreography was kept innocent and cute, little kids holding hands and and dancing in circle in a ring a ring a rosie style.
No Radha on the dance floor that want to be sexy and want attention, no Chamak Chalo, no “I want you in my room”…can you imagine the joy? The show concluded again on a presentation this time on endangered species and the cause of their decline, and kiddos bearing placards about the need to preserve the environment and recycling. Something they have been talking about during school hours during the past few months, something the kids could RELATE to and sent a positive educative message o the parents as well.

I don’t know about you, but that is what annual days involving kids in the age group 2.5 to 6 should be about, and it is not even that much harder to pull it together. The kids practiced for a week, the teachers probably planned it for a month or so, and there was no crying, even from the youngest of the lot, simply because they all knew what to do on “Around the mulberry bush”, there was no clueless nursery aged kids either, which was far far far from being the case in the previous schools where the claimed to have been practicing for over a month. Again, it’s easier to relate for a child that young to being a peacock than hopping up and down on Boom Boom Boom Boom I want you in my room.
This year’s show proved that it is possible to have the kiddos enjoy being in the show, that kid friendly songs can be used on a kid friendly theme, and that the parents will still enjoy it…heck most of them I bet loved it far more than the steady diet of Bollywood performances they probably have been subjected to if their child went to another school before this year. One of my friend whose daughter is in Ishita’s class last year and again this year, told me she was happy to finally see one of these kid friendly school performances of the type you normally only see in Hollywood movies and commercials.

School of Mumbai, do take a leaf from here please…clearly parents aren't thrilled about their kids dancing on item numbers and would prefer to see them dressed as tigers or lions.


  1. Beatrix9:27 PM

    Le boulot finis
    Moi je suis partie
    Dans la discothèque
    Je vois mes amis
    Balayée et nettoyée
    Fraîche et énergique
    Bien prête à participer
    Une ambiance magique

    "Lilali" was a hit in 1999, Kim Kay is Belgian as I recall - a balst from the pads, eh?
    Anyway, I want a green velvet jumpsuit with fake fur!!!
    Why are they always renting costumes?
    Is someone at the school related to the owner of the costume rental place?
    We always made our own costumes (or our moms did)n when I was a kid.

  2. Beatrix9:32 PM

    Balayée et nettoyée = sweeping & cleaning?

    My 6th grade French is a bit rouille.

  3. I think in a city like Mumbai it makes more sense to rent, the school give short notice, and hunting for some of thes outfits would take time, very few have sewing machines too, or heck know how to sew, I myself can't sew clothes to save my life at least not without a good pattern provided. Then there is the travelling to the nearest fabric market that will sell costume fabric. Our school already send us on errands often for all the outfits for the school days where they have to dress up as something.
    I knew I heard that song before if it was popular in the late 90's then that was right around the time I would go out on occasion, and probably played on the radio :)

  4. Close enough, it is the past tense so it is swept and cleaned, which is the literal translation, here it means she is dusted and clean and has a new breath of life :)

  5. That song is ridiculously catchy by the way, no wonder they used it in the school show, the tune is easy for kids to follow and dance on.

  6. Beatrix9:29 AM

    "a balst from the pads, eh?"
    HAH! That should have been 'blast from the past"- spellcheck has a mind of it's own I tell you.
    Oh, our costumes weren't that fancy nor sewn. Mostly we used old newspapers, butcher paper (large rolls of paper used to wrap meat), tempera paints & whatever.

    For instance a costume for a 'cloud' was 2 cloud shaped pieces of paper (one for the front & one for the back of the child) strung together with yarn & staples, painted white with cotton balls glued to it.

    With even basic crafting supplies being so hard to come by in India I can kind of understand renting though.

    Still it was a good learning experience making one's own costume.

  7. Never had school plays growing up, I did take drama class in a small theater troop at one point, but the costumes there belonged to the theater and we would have to buy basic stuff like a specific colour skirt or tee from time to time. I think a lot of people don't have much of a craft none in them around here, I could pull a cardboard costume without problem, but I don't think all the parents could pull it off :)

  8. I think bollywood gets a bad name. There is popular misconception among today's generation and abroad is bollywood is all about nonsense song dance numbers. Bollywood has produced excellent poetry and music which were meant to be savoured and not to jump around. Can't help when they have never heard the likes of Mohd. Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar or gazals of Jagjit Singh. Bollywood has a lot more folk and classical dances which are not find even in new films. It is just that you have to work little hard.


    We were the only generation which had the good fortune of watching movies from 19402s till 1980s. courtesy Doordarshan the State owned TV channel. Each Sunday was an introduction to a new movies star. Such magic. That entire treasure has been wiped off which is most unfortunate for today's generations

    Coming to annual functions, the annual function at my son's school was spectacular with lights, sound and professional choreography. There were folk dances from 25 States with the children not missing a step. It was great fun. Annaul functions in our times were drab consisting of a mix of traditional dances and PT exercises. Now, they are more professionally managed and associated with the prestige of the school.

  9. Give me one of these oldies over any of the item song crap there is nowadays, :-)
    DH has a lot of them on his iPod and we listen to them on long car drive. The problem with a lot of school is that they will go the easy route and do a mix of Bollywood songs of the year on their annual event. I would be all for a more cultural approach like in your sons school or go the route our current school went doing a kid centric programme with a message, glad to hear there are a few school that are doing the effort of planning things nicely :-)

  10. apple9:24 PM

    Even after 100 years, if these songs are played, people would recall the exact lyrics, musical notes, singers, actors and film name. I wonder if anybody would remember "Shiela Ki Jawani" after ten years. Though the lyrics of "Ashique 2" are fantastic. Good lyrics and music always earns its place. They have been forever imprinted in our memory. Have you seen the glow on the faces of actors and actresses of the songs above. They seem almost divine. Have you seen any old bollywood movie like these?

  11. I hope Sheila kids jawani gets forgotten! I haven't seen a Bollywood movie in years, and I think we only can catch these oldies on TV, and we watch very little TV. The joy of having kids is that when the idiot box is on it is cartoons playing. Back in the days movies were still quality, even in the west! people could act! and that was the prerequisite for an actor above look! now it seems they have to look the part and nobody will notice they have no talent or very little of it :(

  12. apple3:08 PM

    I have read somewhere that many bollywood actors and actresses cannot read Hindi. They are given Hindi scripts in English. Imagine not knowing the language of your own professional. I do not know how much of it is true. Imagine enacting Indian emotions while thinking in English.

  13. I read the same thing, and I also read they can't read Devanagari so are given transcript in Roman alphabet this could be the reason why some actors seem a bit...well blah. I took drama classes as a kid and teen and I could not imagine acting something that is Ina language I do not master! the emotions would end up all wrong I think.

  14. How cute! I'm happy that they put on something much more kid appropriate this year.

  15. Well it is a new school too, I am sure the school she was attending last year is going to pull that same crap again this year, and I will probably hear it from my window if they use the BMC ground like they did last year...sigh. If I wasn't already convinced that the school she is in right now is the one most suited for us! that show would have done it for its great theme and kid appropriateness


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