26 October, 2020

Ek, Do, Teen...

The heroine sings, the subtitles teach. Chitrahaar as educational tool.

Siddharaj Solanki
Ek, Do, Teen...

It’s hard to imagine Pedro Almodovar playing a crucial role in a literacy drive in India. But Brij Kothari, associate professor at IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Educational Innovation, likes to thank the Spanish filmmaker for planting a seed in his brain that grew into a full-fledged educational project. Watching Almodovar’s classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in between finishing his doctoral thesis at Cornell University, New York, in 1996, Kothari found himself wishing the English subtitles had been in Spanish instead. “As a new learner of Spanish, it would have helped me ‘hear’ the dialogues better and hence improve my grasp of the language,” he recollects. That was when Kothari first began wondering whether subtitled Hindi film songs could be used as a tool to spread functional literacy in India. A decade-and-a-half later, that fleeting thought has grown into a successful literacy initiative playing out quietly in small towns and villages across India.

The logic is simple:...



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