Kokil is the nanna we will all love to see on ABC TV’s kids program

Kokil Parikh singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with Tony and Calvin

By Neena Badhwar

ABC Television’s program The Nannas and the Poppas, a kids multicultural program with grandparents entertaining today’s kids is the talk of the town. The channel has been working with grandparents and grand kids from different multicultural communities with five episodes that were launched on October 25 on the National Grandparents Day. These Nannas and Poppas group of grannies and granpas team of five will be singing kid’s rhymes, playing games with around fifteen kids who have also been sourced from different communities.

Australia’s multicultural community is growing in number and the television has sensed the demand and thus took a plunge with this new concept of making episodes with grandparents and grandkids. Nan and pops and grandkids make a great combination but the role of grandparents on television is more or less missing. Covid-19 in 2020 may have put brakes on the idea but the channel in the meantime went ahead to create a Grandparents Club and started a page on Facebook ”“ one to sus out if the idea was good and second to see how the people responded to a program such as this. To the surprise of the Channel the response was overwhelming with page building up a following of close to 60,000 in a matter of months.

Says Maree Kirkland-Morris, brainchild behind the program, who could see a gap in current programming for young kids, “With so many parents needing to work, grandparents have become integral to how families function day-to-day. Not only are they providing child-care, they are also an important link in helping young kids understand their heritage and learning fun things like how to fish, cook a cup cake and most importantly, pop your cheeks!” Maree’s vision was equally shared by the producer Lyndi Adler who worked closely as a team to bring the concept to fruition.

Having seen some of the episodes one can sense a great bond and connection between the two generations ”“ grandparents who have all the time to spend with the grandkids when both the parents are busy working. The kids just love older people, singing and learning with them through nursery rhymes, games and activities. Actually kids find them funny yet love them to bits with an unbias view of the their little world. To top it all the Nans and Pas are going to sing children rhymes in Hindi, and other languages besides English rhymes. The series promises to be a lot of fun and games between nannas, poppas and the kids who also come from different cultural background. The five episodes that have been released have already been viewed by many. The Nannas and The Poppas, including the two Hindi episodes will air on ABC Kids from January and then will be available on ABC iView.

Songs for the program in different languages have been penned and compiled by the Wiggles Songwriter John Field who has also worked on the tunes. Lyric translations in Hindi have been written by Vinod Rajput and Deepka Ratra.

Growing flowers

The Indian Nanna on the team of five nan and pas is our own Kokil Parikh, well known in the Indian community. A grandma herself of two, Phoenix (8) and Saffron (5), with third grandkid on the way, Kokil is quite excited about her role. TIDU spoke to Kokil who was happy to oblige us with the Hindi rhymes she has sung for the program: ”˜Ek Do Teen Chaar’ and the other one ”˜Do Aankhe, Do Kaan’. Says Kokil, “I was practicing these rhymes at home all the time as it was difficult during Covid to practice with the musicians. We were given the tune and we just sang at home, my grandkids got so used to me singing these rhymes all the time.”

One would think that everything came at a standstill but it was very busy all year as the crew shot over twenty episodes all together which will go on ABC Kids to be launched early next year. Discussions are already underway for a longer form series of The Nannas and the Poppas under a co-production with Canada and UK and American TV channels are in running as well. The producers   are also talking to some Indian channels.

Kokil is quite delighted by how this unique concept developed when a friend suggested she apply, “There were many who came for the audition. I was lucky to be selected and was explained what it was all about. We are all real grandparents all five of us with Calvin Welch, Tony Williams, Maggie Scott, Patty Gilbert and myself in the Nannas and Poppas team. In fact we have become good buddies.”

Kokil says she has performed for television in India, “I was always doing theatre there from my college days and did bhangra, Gidda and sang many a times on TV. I never thought that I will get an opportunity to perform, this late in life, for me performing for kids is such a pleasure now that I am a grandma myself. It is great to be singing Hindi rhymes for kids, it’s a great honour, really.”

“I love kids and I am at ease with speaking languages as I know five-six Indian languages and having lived in the middle east I know Persian as well. There is one Bengali kid on the program and he was a bit conscious and not smiling at all but when I spoke to him in Bengali, he suddenly opened up and looked at me in wonder to hear a familiar language he is used to listening at home.”

Kokil explains that as the multicultural society is increasing in number ABC realised that there is a pressing need for such a program, “I just love working with kids. There is huge demand from our Indian, Pakistani and the sub-continent community, for them singing in English as well as their language will help our kids who are being brought up in bilingual homes. They can easily associate with the rhymes in English which is our main language as well as rhymes in the language of their parents.”

We ask how difficult it was to work being Covid-19 affecting us all, says Kokil, “We used to have regular Zoom meet ups every month. At times we were given a week to rehearse at home before the actual shoot.”

Kokil not only acts in the episodes but also sings rhymes in Hindi as well as English with the kids, “It is the caring and loving relationship that is missing as parents are very busy these days. ”˜Thoda sa pyar karo’, ”˜Pamper karo’ and then see how kids lighten up.”

Kokil is happy with the overwhelming response of the program, she says she is excited and looking forward to performing at the Riverside Theatre as well as on Australia Day next year, “Last year on 31st December we performed for the Sydney city Mayor who asked us to perform for the underprivileged kids. The response was very good with us performing in front of a crowd of 25,000. Like the wiggles we will be performing all around Australia and thus spread the word.”

The Nannas and the Poppas have also used Indian kids in the series, seen here finger painting with Calvin, Maggie and Tony

The Nannas and The Poppas is a music series that not only reflects the incredibly important relationship between grandparent and grandchild it also provides real engagement and relatability for pre-schoolers, their parents and of course, Nan and Pop.

Introductory video available here:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/m6o85d1m8b3a6cx/NP%20TV%20Promo%20Full%20h Res.mov

We have this beautiful Indian Nani, Nanna as they call a grandma in Australia, on ABC’s The Nannas and the Poppas musical program. We are sure all the Indian community will love Kokil singing Hindi rhymes and entertaining the kids.



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