Old stories, new medium: Author Sudha Murty’s timeless tales find a new avatar on YouTube

ByV Bhatia

Published Nov 07, 2023 | 6:19 PMUpdatedNov 07, 2023 | 6:19 PM

The series will be available in six languages, including English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, and Tamil. (YouTube)

Sudha Murty wears many hats. She is a well-known philanthropist and educator, and chairperson of Infosys Foundation. She is the wife of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy; but above all, she is a prolific writer.

Over the years, she has enthralled children with her timeless stories through several books, including The Old Man And His God, Gently Falls The Bakula, and The Bird with Golden Wings, etc. What sets Murthy’s narrative apart is her simplistic yet profound style of storytelling which resonates with children.

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A new avatar

Now, her stories will get a whole new avatar with Story Time with Sudha Amma. Through this, Murty has agreed to lend her stories to an animated series for children.

Murty’s daughter-in-law, Aparna Krishnan, who runs Murty Media, a content production house, will create the show.

It was Aparna, who encouraged Sudha to translate her stories into a digital platform. She insisted that Murty’s , stories should be animated to reach remote places.

That is how Story Time with Sudha Amma took shape. The dedicated YouTube channel will feature 52 selected stories for children that Murty has handpicked from her books, with each episode spanning an average of 11 minutes.

Launched on October 31, 2023, it will be available in six languages, including English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, and Tamil.

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Adding tunes to tales

Musical maestros Prasoon Joshi and Shantanu Moitra have composed the show’s song.

Talking about the project, Prasoon said, “I was waiting for an opportunity like this since my Taare Zameen Par (2007) days when I wrote all the songs. I wanted a chance to reencounter the innocence. And the characters that talked to Sudhaji also started talking to me.”

Murty’s son, Rohan Murty, posted on LinkedIn, “Encouraged by thousands of letters and emails from children and their parents over the past few years, my mother agreed to lend her stories to an animated series for children.”

 

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He added that the series will be freely accessible to children everywhere and without a paywall.

In the video of the series introduction, the Infosys Foundation’s chairperson says that all the characters she has “written for you, they come into my mind, they talk to me. Some of them are naughty, some are very brave, and some are scared. I have enjoyed their company, not you because they are not animated. I want to bring them alive to show you what colour dress they wear, how naughty they are, how brave they are.”

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Power of stories

At the launch party for the show, she captivated the audience with her trademark simplicity, wit and grace.

She regaled everyone with a story from her teens when her schoolteacher decided to go on maternity leave.

Murty was made the class monitor and was told that she would have to manage the class for one subject for four long months.

 

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The young girl was perplexed and wondered how to hold the attention of her peers for such a long duration. She wondered why they would listen to another 14-year-old.

“I knew I had to come up with something to hold their attention. Then, I decided to start telling them stories. I became a storyteller and would tell nearly the entire story in one class and yet hold back the end. I would tell them, ‘I will tell you about the end tomorrow’. That is how I held the class’s attention for four months,” she recalled.

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Key to holding attention

Later, when Murty started teaching Computer Science to older students, she again found that storytelling was the key to holding their attention.

“Many of my students went on to become very successful. Old students are like old wine… rare and precious. Today, when they meet me, I ask them, ‘Do you remember what I had taught you?’ Most of them tell me ‘We do not remember anything; we only remember all the stories you told us’. That is the power of the story, to bind and also it teaches us so much,” Sudha explained.

After her children grew up and had families of their own, the Padma Shri award winner wanted to write for her grandchildren.

She started writing stories, which were how her books like Grandma’s Bag of Stories, The Magic Drum and Other Favorite Stories, The Magic of the Lost Temple, The Daughter From A Wishing Tree and Grandparents Bag of Stories came about.

All of Murty’s stories emphasise the cause-and-effect theory, where children make mistakes but also get an opportunity to learn from it. At the same time, she feels that parents should not impose their aspirations on their children or get upset if their kids do not follow their best-laid plans.

Going with the flow, she maintains, is essential whether it is storytelling or parenting, especially in contemporary times when kids are overexposed to digital gadgets. Talking to them as a friend is the best way to bridge this digital divide and fuel their natural curiosity. And that is what her books, and now the animated series, are attempting to do.

The series can be accessed on YouTube @Murty-Media.

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