Where do the kids play after school in Shimla? The hill city does not have any playground for them and they are often shooed away if they use open spaces for games like cricket.
The long standing gap in historic is highlighted well in 21-minute docu-drama, ‘SOS-Shivaji Park of Shimla’ by a Mumbai based film maker, Vivek Mohan, who hails from Shimla and knows the pulse of the city.
“It is the story of every child in Shimla. I suffered it too. There are play grounds in some schools in Shimla, but the kids have no place for outdoor games after school hours,” Vivek Mohan said.
The docu drama is shot over a period of six months by him and publicized through social media, it refers to the historic Ridge in Shimla as SOS Shivaji Park (of Mumbai), where players like Sachin Tendulkar grew up.
The film maker chases the groups of children in Shimla, who frantically search the playgrounds and eye the small little opportunity to occupy space anywhere or on the Ridge in the mornings, especially Sundays. But here too, they are often disallowed in the name of inconvenience to people or the possibility of damage to the century old water reservoir beneath.
In British times, however, the Ridge was the only space used as common playground.
At other places down the hill, which are interspersed by trees, grass and bushes, the children spend more time in searching their ball or shuttle than focus on the game itself. The scarcity of the space to play is felt so hard by the children that they are often forced to pursue their outdoor activities in the graveyards in this old city.
“The Annandale, the big green ground, is with Army in Shimla. There is no place for day to day recreation for children in Shimla. The Ridge, the SOS play ground in Shimla, is used for all other activities morning till evening, whether it is about political functions or drills, but the cops scream at the kids whenever they come to play there. The sports complex is there for indoor games in Shimla, but how many children can go there? The open ground has its own value?” Vivek Mohan said.
He said the state government and the Municipal Corporation of Shimla hasn’t thought about this issue seriously so far.
“I just want to highlight the plight of the children in Shimla, who have no option but to sit glued to the TV sets or internet,” he said.
‘SOS- Shivaji Park of Shimla’ is the third in the series on Shimla—the earlier ones being ‘For Whom the Jingle Bells Toll’ and ‘Spot the Difference’. Vivek Mohan had earlier won national award on his documentary on Malana, a village uphill Kullu, known for oldest surviving democracy.