‘Katha Mania’ stimulates creative thinking in children

A contest that encourages story telling and develops communicatin skills

Imagine a lion befriending a rat! Well, one can’t. But moving forward the two decide to visit a hotel and end up savouring the famed Davanagere Benne Dose!

May sound far-fetched but not so in the imagination of children. This is just one of the storylines among nearly 600 such tales rendered by children from across Karnataka in a contest.

An initiative of Mysuru-based 4C – Centre for Communication, Culture and Creativity – and Natana, a theatre group, the contest was held to encourage children to give vent to their imagination and to foment creative thinking apart from helping them develop communication skills.

So 4C and Natana conceived ‘’Katha Mania’’ and announced the contest which entailed the children to tell a story – no longer than 4 minutes. The entire narration had to be video recorded and sent to the organisers who are now in the process of adjudging the winners.

The participants were grouped into two categories: those between 3 years and 6 years; and those in the age group of 7 to 12 years. Stories could be anything they heard from their parents or those gleamed from the Ramayana and Mahabharatha or the Panchatantra.

Niranjan Vanalli, one of the founders and honorary president of 4C, said that the tradition of story telling is ingrained in every culture but of late it was increasingly getting diluted due to the emergence of digital media where children tend to be passive consumers, more so in these pandemic times where their outdoor interaction is restricted.

Children were also encouraged to be more dramatic while rendering the tales all of which showed in the videos uploaded by the participants, said Mr.Vanalli, who is also a professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Mysore.

Siri Vanalli, a law student, and M.N. Srivathsa, Secretary of 4C, along with Natana theatre artistes viewed each of the 600 short stories and short-listed 30 of them – 15 from each group. They have been sent to writer and columnist Jayanth Kaikini who will pick the winners.

“Katha Mania” drew a good response from across Karnataka while there were four participants from the USA and Canada. Brought up in a different milieu these four participants – whose parents are from Karnataka – made efforts to be more proficient in Kannada and participate in the contest, according to Mr. Vanalli. Some schools took particular interest and helped their students take part in the contest which was perceived to be a platform to showcase the creativity of children.

Given the enthusiasm of the parents to the concept and immense response to it, the organisers say ‘’Katha Mania’’ will be an annual affair henceforth.

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