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Folktales, now animated

Mahim-based animation institute archives country’s oldest art form to make storytelling interesting.

art and culture Updated: Jun 06, 2010 15:56 IST
Jayeeta Mazumder

Remember your granny telling you the story of a monkey befriending a crocodile and then running to save his own life when the crocodile’s wife demands his heart? Well, our classic folklore just got re-packaged in the snazziest format. After being published as comic strips and graphic novels, folktales are now animated.

About 60 students from the city-based animation institute, Graphiti School of Animation, made an exclusive film on quintessential Indian folktales. The film is titled Krish Trish And Baltiboy. And it took a good four years to make it.

Krish Trish And Baltiboy has taken six folktales from different parts of the country and made two one-hour films each. The films have been produced by the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) and directed by the owner of the institute, Tilak Shetty.

Shetty emphasises the need to revive and archive our dying art forms: “You need to make kids aware of this form of storytelling in an interesting manner. We not only took the story, but the music and dialogue too, so as to make it contemporary and relatable.”

The stories are told by a group of musicians, following the Indian traditional format of storytelling using sutradhars. In this case, they are a cat, a monkey and a donkey, who tell stories from various parts of India.

Retaining style
The uniqueness of these films is the stylisation, which also posed the biggest challenge. Shetty says, “Most of these art forms such as the Madhubani art don’t have perspective, they’re flat. We had to be true to the style. We didn’t take any freedom as far as the art form is concerned.”

Each story is told from a particular region of India and the designs, colours, patterns and storytelling format are taken from the folk art from that region.

Shetty, who has also written the screenplay, says, “Our team did thorough research on folk stories in India. We picked up those that we’ve grown up listening to and told them in a contemporary manner.” But kids are not the only target audience; they will appeal to adults too, Shetty promises.

On offer
As of now, stories from six places — Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Bihar and West Bengal - have been told in these animated versions.

Shetty reveals that they needed a producer for the films and now that CFSI has taken charge, theatrical releases and screenings at festivals will be taken care of. In fact, a few screenings have already taken place at NCPA and Films Division’s private theatres in Mumbai.

Shetty informs that there are over 300 art forms in India and there is a serious need to archive them and apprise people. “The idea is to do one story from each region, and make a series of more such animation films,” he asserts.

Tales told in animation
The monkey and the crocodile (Karnataka): A monkey feeds a crocodile jamuns from the tree on which he lives. One day, the crocodile takes some jamuns back to his wife. She asks him to get the monkey’s heart, which she believes would be equally sweet. But the crocodile tells the monkey everything and the smart monkey manages to save his life.

Two monkeys and a cat (Bihar): Two monkeys decide to migrate to the city. Hunger drives them to steal a pot of butter, which is then usurped by a street-smart city cat.

The barber and the rakshasa (Bengal): A barber promises his wife that he would not return home until he finds a lot of wealth. He encounters a demon in the forest who he tricks with his wit and goes home happy with pots full of jewellery.

Graphiti School of Animation is located in Mahim (W)
404, Udyog Mandir No 2, Mogul Lane.
Call: 24440107.