Anupam for kids

Anupam Roy strums up a musical treat for Mambi & friends

  • Published 22.04.16

Can you see a monkey? 
Hanging from a tree
Oh! Her eyes sparkle
Sparkle in glee

Anupam Roy sings Everybody loves you Mambi, for Nandana Sen and the protagonist of her children’s book, Mambi and the Forest Fire. 

Nandana Sen, the actor-writer-child rights activist, and her creation, Mambi the monkey, had a very special guest on Monday at Oxford Bookstore. 

Singer-songwriter Anupam Roy presented a song he has written on the brave little simian, which soon had the children in the audience clapping and grooving in their seats. And when Anupam performed it for the second time on popular demand, the young ’uns couldn’t keep to their seats any longer and came up to match steps with the tune. 

Nandana has been holding interactive sessions for the past few months with children in schools, bookshops and literary meets for her children’s book, Mambi and the Forest Fire (Puffin India, Rs 250). The idea of the workshops is to have fun and make reading exciting for children. 

“Because kids now have such short attention spans, and are constantly distracted by Chhota Bheem and Disney princesses, it is critical to find creative ways to interest kids with books,” Nandana pointed out.

Kids in the audience dance to 
The Mambi Song at Oxford Bookstore on Monday.
Pictures: Anindya Shankar Ray

The Mambi Song is Anupam’s first foray into children’s music. Previously known as the poster boy of young Bengali angst and then young Bengali romance, the Aamake aamar moto thakte dao boy is stepping into new territory with this happy, peppy tune. 

“I’ve known Nandana from my very first film — Autograph. That’s when we became friends... and of course, I have admired her mother Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s writing for a long time. Last week we met up and Nandana told me about her children’s book and asked if I could make a song about Mambi,” said the Piku music maker. 

It would be a new challenge and time was short but he said yes. And in two days The Mambi Song was written and set to tune. “I enjoyed composing for kids, I realised it comes quite naturally to me. I’d love to do more, if I get the opportunity,” smiled Anupam, adding that his childhood staples were Thakurmar Jhuli, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Hansel and Gretel. 

“Fairy tales still attract me. Also comics, which I read even yesterday. In fact, yesterday I also went and watched The Jungle Book,” he grinned.

Nandana said she absolutely loved Anupam’s song. She thought it was “just magical”. 

“Amazingly joyous, fun, playful, mischievous and poetic, all at once! No one else could have written a song as perfect as this, and I’m especially touched that in his super-busy schedule he found the time to write it. I cherish our friendship from our Autograph days as much as I love Anupam’s very many talents. In fact, I call him and his brilliant wife, Prince Pom and Princess Piya,” she told t2.

Little Freddie swishes his tail, just like Mambi!

She was also happy that Anupam was able to come and perform the song for the kids. 

“Since Mambi is all about celebrating every child’s special gifts, I was thrilled that the kids had a chance to meet an artiste who is not only such a kind, fun and warm person, but also has so many special gifts himself — a great example for our little boys and girls,” she added. 

Another novelty for Anupam was writing in English. “This is not the first time I’m writing in English, though it is one of the first that I have shown others,” he laughed. 

The only other English song of his that has seen the light of day is a single he composed after the December 16 rape in New Delhi, called Second Sex, which is available on YouTube.

Nandana and Anupam are yet to decide what will become of The Mambi Song, though both are inclined towards using the song with an animated video on Mambi that parents can use to introduce the book to their children and generate excitement about the whole idea of reading. 

“Songs and videos make all the difference. Singing, playing, yelling, jumping, and dramatising characters help a lot — once kids are into a story, they don’t need any more help engaging with, or even analysing what they read. They understand exactly what the book is about! As little Tessa declared today, “It’s okay that Mambi doesn’t fly because she can do so many other clever things!” Nandana said. 

Samhita Chakraborty
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