SOS- Shivaji Park of Shimla – Plight of town’s children depicted in short-film by Vivek Mohan
SHIMLA– Film-maker Vivek Mohan has released the trailer of his upcoming short-film “SOS – Shivaji Park of Shimla”. The film is scheduled to be released on March 28 this year. The filmmaker, who is born and brought-up in Shimla, spent about six months to shoot the documentary that intends to highlight misery of children in Shimla. In this 21-minute short-film, Mr. Vivek has taken up an issue that hardly caught anyone’s attention – lack of playground or even open space for children to play. In Shimla, children literally do not have any open space to play, which is a matter of concern. He named the documentary after the famous cricket stadium in Mumbai that has produced players like Sachin Tendulkar. The Mumbai administration had opened the stadium for children to play. In Shimla town, the historic Ridge, which is basically a water-reservoir, is compared to the Shivaji Park as it’s the only common space that children have on the name of playground.
Not just this issue, but he has taken up the issue of degradation of Shimla due to urbanization in his short-film. Mr. Vivek has also won the National Award for his short-film “Malana – In Search Of” on Malana village in Kullu valley.The current production would be his third dedication to Shimla.
It’s worth mention that Mr. Vivek has been raising the issue for years now. As per administration, letting children play on the Ridge causes inconvenience to tourists and people. The administration has always expressed its helplessness to provide even a single playground for children. Once, children used to play on streets when the traffic used to be very dilute. Now, the urbanization has snatched these roads, too, from children. The Annandale Ground is under army control and children can’t go there. World’s highest cricket ground in Chile is for showcase to tourists and children aren’t allowed here either. The open space at Chaura Maidan comes under restricted road and the one in front of gate of Indian Institute of Advance Studies is occupied by cabs.
What remained was the historic Ridge Shimla where children used to play cricket or cycle around. However, the district administration and Shimla police have chased away the children from here as well.
As a matter of fact, children are not just deprived of space to play, but also from an essential aspect behind development of a healthy, complete personality in social context. It’s no less than violating the right of children to play and repression of their playfulness. Secondly, Shimla hardly produces sportsmen because of the same reason.
In 2011, after a letter from a child regarding lack of playgrounds to play, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had asked the Shimla MC why there were no grounds for children. SMC had mentioned lack of funds as reason in reply. Administration is completely blank on the issue as it struggles with carrying out usual business like water supply and sanitation. In such times, the filmmaker has come out with another attempt to highlight the plight of the children through his short-film. In fact, Mr. Vivek has created a public group “Halla Bol and Baat” on Facebook too.
Shimla town is on the verge of losing its beauty, serenity, and purity of air. There is hardly any ecologically harmful practice from haphazard and unscientific construction on hill slopes to burning municipal solid waste that town doesn’t follow. In such times, cinema can play a vital role in highlighting such critical issues through short-films or documentaries.
In fact, Mr. Vivek has talked about lack of encouragement to young filmmakers in Himachal from state government. The artists are still producing sub-standard video albums while some others have found a platform through social media like YouTube. However, it’s a good time for the administration to step in and think about lifting the level of cinema in Himachal, said Mr. Vivek.