Finally, a show for kids

Finally, a show for kids

Telly review

I remember many childhood days spent before the telly — a time when I’d watch a string of cartoons that aired one after another, while I munched absentmindedly on spoonfuls of sugary cereal. They were pretty harmless stuff: Aladdin would swoop off on his magic carpet in search of yet another desert adventure, the Bear in the Big Blue House would welcome me in with a tune, followed by Rolie, Polie and Olie, who’d amuse me with their robotics.

Captain Planet had me craving for a magic ring; I’d root for Scooby at the Laffalympics, and follow keenly the original cat-and-mouse chase — Tom & Jerry. More cartoons would follow, and pretty soon, my impressionable mind consisted only of animated sketches, continuing their adventures through the scope of my vivid, rather relentless, imagination.

Television for kids follows pretty much the same format today, but for the fact that Tom, Jerry and Co. are being increasingly replaced by the Japanese adventures of  Pokemon, Doraemon and the like.

This got me thinking — are such programmes the only options to choose from, when it comes to roping in an audience from the elementary-school-going generation? Discovery Kids has proven, over the last month, that this is clearly not the case with their show Mystery Hunters India — a series that combines entertainment with education.

A series that ‘demystifies the intriguing myths of India’, Mystery Hunters India features 16-year-old Apoorva and seventh-grade student Himanshu as they travel across India and unravel mysterious tales of bewildering interest.

Be it the ‘red rain’ phenomenon that occurred in Kerala, uncovering the truth behind the mysterious Naga people of the underground, or trekking to the third largest crater lake in the world, these ‘mystery hunters’ clearly have their work cut out for them. Of course, Doubting Dev, who uses his ‘own brand of humour to conduct experiments and uncover the truth’, is also there to help.

The show is a localised version of the original Mystery Hunters series that aired in Canada, which dealt with two investigations per episode — one investigation for each of the hosts.

Doubting Dave would help solve a viewer’s dilemma about a particular mysterious occurrence or incident. Doubting Dave would also conduct an experiment in his laboratory, to illustrate a point related to the episode in question. Needless to say, Mystery Hunters India follows pretty much the same format, albeit with an Indian touch.

The young hosts of the show are quick to point out that Mystery Hunters India caters to the need for a show for Indian kids, one that provides edutainment, or fun-filled learning. “I know what kids my age watch — cartoons and movies. Mystery Hunters India manages to provide an all-in-one experience, one which combines knowledge and entertainment, which is what makes it appealing,” notes Himanshu.

Both Apoorva and Himanshu spoke of having done their homework and reading up on the history behind each of the many ‘mysteries’ that they were on the trail to solve. Apoorva’s favourite episode was one that was shot in Talakad, a town believed to be cursed. Himanshu mentions an episode that sought to understand why the Qutub Minar never rusts, or, as he found out later, why it rusts very slowly. Be it the story of the black Taj Mahal, the existence of pygmy elephants in the Western Ghats, or examining the 1,000-year-old rock paintings in the rock shelters of Madhya Pradesh, you too can be a part of this educational expedition, every day, on Discovery Kids, at 3 and 6 pm.

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