Sarala Minni – Kahaniwali Nani – Storyteller
A Bangalorean, 61 year old Sarla Minni, better known as Kahaniwali Nani to 10,000 eager listeners sets a perfect example that if you have a vision and a will and can use the modern technology wisely you can definitely do wonders. At an age when most people complain about petty things in life, about loneliness or aimless life, this humble granny has set an example and is providing a platform to her counterparts to use their experience and wisdom wisely. Instead of restricting herself to a monotonous life she has extended her family of listeners beyond all boundaries.
She records bedtime stories for children and broadcasts them over a messaging App Telegram for her 10,000 “grandchildren”.
Her stories have now become immensely popular. Every other day she is approached by some or the other media person. So is her charm that Blog writers like Tanya Munshi, Indian women blog, Digital newspapers like The News Minute, The Hindu and feature programs like BBC World Service Radio(UK) have covered her in their programs. Even the local print media like ,Matrabhoomi, Andhra Jyoti have published articles on Kahaniwali Nani.
Everyone who pursue this unique art has a twisting and turning origin story. I’m curious what drew you in.
I believe, “ A story is a child’s right.” I love telling stories to children. I have been doing this since past 40 years, telling stories to my nephews and nieces and now to their children as well. When my niece Parul Rampuria suggested that I record stories and send to her, to be circulated among friends and family, the idea of Kahaniwali Nani came into being. We received an overwhelming response during experimentation and finally we launched Kahaniwali Nani on the 21st of March this year.
“Kahaniwalinani” – brings a warm smile on every child’s face. How did you come up with such an affectionate title?
As I have mentioned above I started this with inspiration and help of my niece Parul. She initially suggested the name “Kahaniwali”. As my grandson Vivan, who calls me nani has been listening to my stories very fondly since he was a year old, I added “Nani” to the title. This is how “Kahaniwali Nani” came up.
Isn’t it enough just to read to children? Why is story telling different/better?
Reading to children is very good and can be equated with storytelling if done with voice modulation and action. However, storytelling is different because it has better scope for improvisation and provides opportunity for visualisation.
What are the key ingredients to a good spoken word story?
Improvisation, voice modulation and above all a visual language are the most important ingredients to a good spoken word story. The story has to be in a visual language where imagery is used to convey ideas and meaning of the story. It should be like you make them see thought closed eyes.
The idea of working in a medium that deals with a single sense—hearing—is fascinating. How can an audio storyteller find a variety of artistic tools to use?
The power of medium lies in letting the boundless imagination of the child flow. The story itself has to be interesting enough to captivate the child. Keeping the story interactive is another way of keeping the child interested in the story.
You must be having different themes for different age groups. Can you please throw some light on that?
I don’t have any specific theme for different age groups. I send simple stories across themes like animal stories, festival related stories, humorous stories, value base stories etc. Most of them are folk lures. So that children of all ages can enjoy them.
What is the usual age group of your listeners? To which age group do you enjoy telling stories the most?
The usual age group of my listeners is 2-10 years. However, our listeners include new born, grandparents and would-be-mothers as well. I enjoy telling stories to all of them.
What role, according to you, does storytelling play in the classroom? How can it be incorporated in the school curriculum?
In a normal classroom interaction, teaching is often assisted with some kind of visual aid like text books, charts, models etc. Storytelling can be incorporate as creative thinking, where teacher and students can share their thoughts through stories by building fictional characters.
Your views on storing telling in the classroom as teaching strategy.
It can be a very good strategy and should be definitely utilised. Research shows that when children are exposed to stories it helps them develop comprehension and logic skills which helps in development of communication process and education skills.
What are the learnings/feedback you get from your listeners? Would you like to share any particular experience that stands out?
I get loads of lovely, fun-filled, emotional feedbacks from my listeners. Quoting a few of them.
> Your stories are improving my kid’s language skills. Especially your Hindi is too good and your stories are really helpful in learning the language. English too is wonderful.
> Sid only heard it once and remembered it to tell it on the dining table- so you have a great art of telling good stories and making them imagine and that helps them to recite.
> Wow awesome. Your voice and words are so clear. It’s like you are sitting in front of us.
> I am Revathi, Kritanus mother. Even when I listen to the story, keeping my eyes closed, I too feel as u are sitting near us and narrating the story.
> You have become a family member. Your voice everything was felt …………………………….
> Hi, Kahaniwali Naniji, what an amazing thought behind your kind thoughts and the name- Superb – great initiative. Yeh dil mange more.