It has been less than a year that the ‘Sim Sim Hamara’ project by the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) went on air. However, plans of expanding the series into a feature film and radio show are already in place.
Given the show’s immense popularity and the desperate need for entertainment catering to children, why wouldn’t it be expanded? It has already provided young audiences with unforgettable characters such as Rani, Munna, Baily, Baji and Haseen-o-Jameel.
“Everything is finally falling into place, we started with television, now we’re branching into other areas,” said the Head of Party at Rafi Peer Theatre workshop, Faizan Peerzada who intends on making a film before the project’s four-year contract runs out. “Using different mediums like radio, television and films together actually helps in terms of raising awareness, this development is not surprising for us as we never set out to only do television.”
Peerzada, who has been a central figure in bringing the revised Pakistani edition of the 1969 classic educational television show “Sesame Street” to Pakistan, has focussed on connecting with as many children as possible.
Talking about its response, Peerzada said, “Since it’s an original Pakistani program, children can relate to the characters more. Normally children have seen the show with a foreign backdrop but with this localised instalment they find it even easier to learn.”
The TV show is proving to be instrumental in providing education by exploring different themes related to the Pakistani culture and history. The theme of every episode revolves around a certain word that people can easily relate to. For instance, in the first episode, the content revolves around the word ‘saath’ or cooperation and all the skits incorporate the theme of cooperation in some way or another.
The popularity of the show has led to it being dubbed in multiple languages as well as tours being arranged where characters from the show go on the road and connect with the audience. This programme also includes puppet shows and video screenings at communal gatherings and village festivals which can attract families with young children. Additionally, the team also aims to offer interactive computer programs to better engage with children.
As part of this outreach process, the radio component could be ready as early as this year while the film would be done by the end of two years before the USAID contract runs out.
When it comes to the plan for Sim Sim Radio, some of the characters will be voiced by famous Pakistani personalities. This may not be such a difficult task as leading artists such as Ali Azmat, Annie Khalid and Jimmy Khan have already been part of the TV show. There are several songs related to life skills, health and hygiene which have been sung by different artists.
The film based upon the show will carry on the characters seen on the big screen and will aim to sustain the educational goals of the four-year USAID project which ends in 2014. “The concept has to continue in other mediums, and the most sustainable medium is cinema. By using various creative ways, we can make sure it reaches the maximum number of schools in Pakistan,” stated Peerzada.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2012.
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