Acting, debating, oration, recitation, extempore, quizzing, writing, poetry, cooking — you name it and he not only does it, he does it well. Navoneer Bhattacharyya, a Class IV student of Birla High School, is an all-rounder.
The nine-year-old received a Special Mention at the Edugraph 18 Under 18 Awards for his multi-faceted talent. Navoneer wants to grow up to be a magician, and his inspiration is the Canadian-American magician Shin Lim.
Taking the first steps
When he was in Kindergarten, his teacher and co-curricular coordinator at Birla High School, Sanjukta Majumdar, encouraged him to act in a play for the annual concert. Navoneer played the lovable Mowgli from the Jungle Book, and that's how trying out new things began for him.
Mother Deepshika Sumajdar said his oratory skills and persuasion skills were also noticed by a teacher. And in Class II, Navoneer started writing stories.
Navoneer’s days are packed and even more so in the run-up to competitions. “Around the time of debating and writing competitions, I break up my day into time slots. After school, I listen to audiobooks based on the works of Enid Blyton or Satyajit Ray’s Feluda series while having lunch. After that, I think of a plot and sit down to write a story. I rest a bit and study from 6pm to 9pm. Before dinner, I practise oration,” he said.
During the pandemic, his teachers allotted two-hour virtual sessions for him and other students who are into orating and other co-curricular activities to help brush up their skills.
“Navoneer first researches and memorises the script that he has written down. Once he knows the words, he works on his facial expressions and voice modulation while looking at the mirror. Sometimes, I give him tips,” his mother said.
An avid reader
Navoneer is fond of reading novels, and the Harry Potter series is his favourite.
J.K. Rowling, Enid Blyton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ruskin Bond, Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens are among his favourite authors. For general knowledge, he reads encyclopaedias and history books. He also spends time with books on Mathematics and Science.
From making omelettes to writing his own recipes
At a very early age, Navoneer learnt from his mother how to whisk an egg and make an omelette. During his semi-annual school projects, Navoneer learnt how to make porridge and different types of chaat. From his father, he learnt to make mocktails.
The little chef has come a long way, searching for recipes on YouTube with his father’s help and even coming up with his own recipes. Navoneer’s sweet and sour chicken soup with baby corn, carrots, black pepper and a dash of butter is a family favourite in winter.
Navoneer was declared the national-level winner in the Classes III-V category of Speak Up!, a public speaking competition organised by the global student community Camp Yellow, in 2020. He spoke on the topic ‘I Have a Dream’.
Navoneer also won Just a Minute (JAM) Challenge, an elocution competition organised by Curious Times, a news website for kids, in his age group in 2021. The same year, he won the first prize in wizkidscarnival’s Tell-Ur-Tale May ’21 Challenge, an inter-school storytelling competition, for his story ‘When Lord Ganesha Cancels His Birthday Party’.
Edugraph 18 Under 18 Awards
“To say the truth, I couldn’t believe I had won an award, competing with so many talented people, many of them older than me. I felt overwhelmed,” Navoneer said.
Farida Singh, the headmistress of Birla High School (Junior Section), is proud of Navoneer. “He is a dedicated, creative and confident child. His perseverance and eye for detail have brought several laurels to the school. We are extremely proud of Navoneer and wish him the best in all his future endeavours,” Singh said.