Hindi-language DVD aims to make learning ‘fun’

West Windsor resident couldn’t find the teaching tool she was looking for, so she created one herself.

By: Jill Matthews
   WEST WINDSOR — Namrata Grover couldn’t find what she was looking for — so she decided to create it herself.
   The township resident was looking for a fun and educational film or television program that taught Hindi to her three children, but when she couldn’t locate one, she decided to create and market her own DVD.
   "Chalo Hindi Bolay" — or "Let’s Speak Hindi" — teaches children Hindi using song, dance, games and animations, among other things.
   "I was looking for something like this for my children, and there was really nothing out there," said Ms. Grover.
   While there were a lot of educational materials available to teach children Hindi, Ms. Grover said she did not find anything that taught the language in a fun way. Without an existing fun and educational DVD, Ms. Grover decided to contact some people she knew in the film industry and produce her own.
   Blending themes from the East and West, Ms. Grover based her film on concepts used in children’s television shows, like "Dora the Explorer." A popular children’s show on Nickelodeon, "Dora the Explorer" is a half-hour, interactive and animated television show about a 7-year-old Hispanic girl and her friends. The show teaches children to observe situations and solve problems while also teaching Spanish language words and phrases.
   "Let’s Speak Hindi" revolves around a series of songs, games, story times and travel segments that reinforce the memorization of key phrases and ideas. The DVD uses popular English and Hindi nursery rhymes and songs, like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" — all translated into Hindi — to help young children build their vocabulary. The film also has English subtitles.
   The DVD is targeted to children ages 2 to 10 as a learning supplement for children who do not know Hindi. Though meant for children who do not know Hindi, children who do already know the language still like to watch the program because they sometimes pick up new vocabulary, she said.
   While Ms. Grover assumed her market would mostly be Indian children, she has discovered that’s not the case. Non-Indian children have been interested in watching it as another fun show they can enjoy — and adults, particularly those in interracial marriages, have been picking up copies of the DVD as well, she said.
   The DVD features township children who were part of a Hindi class Ms. Grover taught at the West Windsor Public Library. The film was shot in parks, at Dutch Neck Presbyterian School and in other places around the Princeton Junction area of the township.
   Filming for the DVD started Labor Day weekend 2003, but the film, including editing and adding music, took a year to complete because of waiting periods between production times, Ms. Grover said.
   Ms. Grover declined to say how much the video cost to produce, other than to say it was considerable.
   "It was a lot to create it, and that’s not counting what I put in," she said.
   While she started offering the videos for purchase only about a month ago, she estimates she has sold about 200 so far at a cost of $14.95 each. Ms. Grover has targeted various Indian fairs and events to sell her DVD but it can also be found in the West Windsor and Plainsboro libraries, or can be ordered online at www.hindikids.com.