Vani Tripathi Tikoo is a prominent Indian politician and theatre, television and film actor with extensive teaching experience at the National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi. She has specialised in Grips-Theater, a renowned emancipatory children’s and youth theatre based out of Berlin where adults perform as children, with children and for children. Vani, a former national secretary of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has also pioneered the use of theatre as a mode of learning in schools and practicing performing arts as part of the curriculum in India.
Keeping alive her work with children – whom she considers as “gurus who save us from the perils of adulthood”, Vani decided to make a foray into writing for children and the result is her first book ‘Why Can’t Elephants Be Red?’
After successful launch events in India and around the world, the author is all set to bring the book to a UK audience with a London launch event at the Nehru Centre on November 14 – celebrated as Children’s Day in India.
Vani tells iGlobal: “London is a city of literature; I've done theatre there and I know that there is great intention for children and writing around them.
“So, I see a debate around how we are scared of realistic writing for children as being a centrepiece of our discussion at the book launch at the Nehru Centre.”
Her book centres around Akku – a lively, imaginative and adventurous two-and-half-year-old little girl. Growing up partly in Gurgaon and mostly in Singapore, she is the darling of her big joint family consisting of her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as her caregiver and her friend.
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From playing with her fishy friends and beloved puppy to discovering the wonders of swimming pools, sea beaches, food courts and restaurants, every new experience fills Akku with joy and curious questions. Be it omelettes or pakoras or curd rice, she gobbles them all up.
She loves to scribble and draw and mixes up colours to create new ones. Her imagination runs riot with elephants that are red, crabs that have moustaches and unicorns that don’t have horns. Whether it’s art class or a playdate with her friend, Akku has fun and learns new things about her world. But the biggest adventure of all awaits Akku — her first day at school.
Vani shares: “My message is let's go back and start looking at childhood around us, let's start looking at realistic writing of cinema. We've peddled enough frozen castles and fairy tales to children, which is nothing to do with their everyday life.
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“Their everyday life is very interesting and also often complex. We as adults either talk down to them or bark orders at them. I think this is an opportune time in terms of the storytelling narrative that is emerging globally so that we start paying attention to them.”
*Info: Nehru Centre