Kedar Shrestha on joys and challenges of working with children

Sangita Shrestha 02 Apr 2023
Kedar Shrestha on joys and challenges of working with children

Kedar Shrestha is a prominent figure in children’s literature and drama. He is the founder director of Theater Mall, Kirtipur, and has written and directed the short film ‘Junuko Jutta’ (Junu’s Shoes). He also served as the casting director for the film ‘Aaina Jhyalko Putali’ (Butterfly on a Windowpane). Shrestha is a strong advocate for using art and literature for children’s personality development, which he believes is crucial for the prosperity of society. He recently spoke to Himal Press about his work.

On Current Projects

I am currently occupied with the preparations for my upcoming film “Junuko Ribbon” (Junu’s Ribbon). We are planning to begin filming in May, and I’m excited to be spending my time with the children as I work on this project. Along with this, Theater Mall is conducting its annual “Theatre Workshop for Children.” Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to suspend the workshop for a few years, but we have resumed it now. This year’s workshop will be held from March 21 to April 5, and it’s the ninth edition of this event.

The workshop is designed to take place during the children’s school vacation, and it’s open to participants between the ages of 6 and 14. In the beginning, we only had 10-15 children attending the workshop, but the number has been increasing every year. In the most recent edition, we had around 50 participants. The workshop covers a variety of activities, including drama, acting, storytelling, public speaking, painting, and more. Over the 15-day period, the children get to learn new things while having fun and interacting with each other.

Our workshop is not solely focused on teaching acting skills, but rather on helping children develop their personalities through art. We believe that children are the future of our nation, and therefore it’s essential to emphasize their personality development, mental growth, and creativity through literature.

In line with our mission of promoting all-round development of children through art, we recently collaborated with Shaili Theater and Russian Culture Center to conduct the ‘National Children’s Drama Festival’ in Kathmandu. The festival showcased various plays centered around children’s themes. We are proud to say that the festival has been running for 14 successful years, and it’s been an excellent platform for children to showcase their talent and creativity.

On Working with Children

My passion for working with children stems from my desire to live longer. I believe that working with children can help extend one’s life. Today’s children have the potential to live up to 70, 80, or even 90 years, which means that the lessons we teach them today can last for many years to come. By working with children, I can also leave a lasting impression in their minds, which is something that I find incredibly rewarding.

In addition to this, I strongly believe that a society that prioritizes its children is a prosperous one. Unfortunately, children are not given enough priority in our country, and that needs to change. We must respect and provide a platform for them.

However, I do not mean to say that children should perform on stage or that adults should perform exclusively for children. Instead, adults should work for the children’s benefit. We should perform in children’s plays and write children’s literature, but with the aim of helping them develop and learn. By doing so, we can create a better future for our children and society as a whole.

Working with children requires one to become a child themselves. There is no point in being a grown-up in front of them because they treat everyone equally, regardless of their status. While it can be challenging, it is also incredibly fun to work with children. We should teach them while they play. This is the best approach since they learn a lot while having fun.

Many people often question whether my love for children inspired Junuko Jutta. The story was actually inspired by Yashu Shrestha’s story titled “Ulto Jutta,” which I read 12 years ago. The story concludes with a discussion on how to wear shoes properly, and I took that as a starting point for Junuko Jutta. The film is about a five-year-old girl who struggles to wear her shoes correctly. After being scolded by her family and teachers, she eventually discovers a way to wear them properly.

Yeshe Lama from Solukhumbu essayed the role of Junu in Junuko Jutta. She will also be starring in my upcoming film Junuko Ribbon. She is eight years old now. So, the film is not only the story of the character Junu but also the story of Yeshe’s journey as an actor. It is a chapter story with a series of interconnected stories, each one complete in itself. Even if someone misses one story, they can still enjoy the other ones.

On Junuko Ribbon

I cannot divulge the story now, but we have moved from toe to head now. In the previous film, Junu was stuck with shoes. Now, it’s about her ribbon.

I have already written four or five stories about Junu. I don’t know whether all of them can be made into films because it’s related to finance. Making a film requires a lot of time and money. Some stories may be made, while others may not. However, Junuko Ribbon has entered the production phase.

I wrote the story of Junuko Jutta in 2011, and the film was made in 2019. When I wrote the story, Yeshe, who plays the character of Junu, wasn’t even born. I saw little Yeshe for the first time when I was in Junbesi of Solukhumbu for the shooting of the movie ‘Supermonk’ in 2018. As soon as I saw her, I remembered my story and felt that this little girl should play the character of Junu. I talked with her parents, took her pictures, and some videos. We left the place saying that we would come next year. When we reached the place with the production unit next year, Junu’s parents were surprised.

On the success of Junuko Jutta

It is fascinating to see how films and dramas made for children are not limited to only children as parents also come to watch them. While movies made for adults can only be enjoyed by adults, children’s films can be enjoyed by both children and their parents.

I am proud to say that in 2019, ‘Junuko Jutta’ received the ‘Best Fiction Award’ under Nepal Panorama category at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF). It was a great accomplishment for us, and we also won many national and international awards for the film.

The film also won an award at the 66th edition of the world’s prestigious and oldest international film festival – International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. More than 6,500 films from around the world applied to the festival that year. Among them, the best 100 films were selected. Nineteen films were selected from Asia. Junukot Jutta was one of them.

In this international short film festival, which has been held in Germany since 1954, Junuko Jutta was selected under the “Children’s and Youth Film Competition” category of the international competition. We won the Jury Award. The children were the jury members in that category. Children on the jury told the organizers why the film deserved the award. As children liked the film and recommended it for the award, we consider that our film has reached the target audience.


Published On: 02 Apr 2023


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *