At 95, this teacher still continues to educate children

A documentary on one of India’s longest serving teachers Meenakshi Nambiar seeks to immortalise her contributions to students and society on film

Meenakshi Nambiar redefines contentment for the lot of us. If being happy with one’s present is what being content is, for the 95-year-old Mrs Nambiar — as she is known to the thousands of students she has mentored in a long career as a teacher — it is continuing as an educator even at this age.

It is this incredible life journey of hers that filmmaker Prateek Prajosh has documented in the 25-minute short, Mrs Nambiar: More Than Just a Teacher, which is streaming on the paywalled OTT platform Cinemapreneur.

Says Prateek, 30, who is also the grand nephew of the National Teachers’ Award-winning educator, “I grew up listening to stories about her, and she was always a huge source of inspiration to everyone in my family. I thought it would be interesting to document her impact as an educator. Being family made it easier for me to get access to do the interviews and also to get her to appear on camera. She is otherwise a very private person.”

Passion project

The film documents a handful of accounts from her students, co-workers and family members on the veteran teacher’s contributions to their lives.

We get a picture of someone who was, and is, evidently, very ambitious and driven by her commitment to her chosen profession.

“The great love, respect, reverence and acceptance that teachers commanded in society during my childhood days and the role model teachers that I came across with awe during my young days kindled and planted in my mind the seed of ambition to be a teacher,” says Mrs Nambiar, responding via email.

Meenakshi Nambiar

An MBA graduate-turned-filmmaker, Prateek adds that there was a “ready acceptance” from people whom his team had contacted to be featured in interviews for the documentary.

“As much as how finding these people was important, it also showed that all of them held her in high regard. Everyone had their own personal story to share about how she was with them… as a teacher, as a family member and as an administrator,” says Prateek, over phone from Mumbai.

The film was shot prior to lockdown and before the pandemic outbreak. While being forced to stay away from her school has been a tough experience for Mrs Nambiar, she vows to continue to serve till the very last moment she can.

“What keeps me going even today is my routine, discipline in life and a desire and will to contribute even now to the lives of my students, making my age related difficulties insignificant. My prayer even today is that I must get an opportunity to be with young students till my last breath,” she adds.