The Indian Loksabha Elections has already begun at different phases in different parts of the country. Come this Monday, Maharashtra will execute their right to enfranchisement, and similarly, May will see West Bengal and other parts casting their vote. Thus, the preparations and campaignings all over India are pacing up and one of the mediums being used is Politoon or political cartoon.
A political cartoon or ‘Politoon’ is a universal instrument of a political dialogue between government and society, a reflection or reaction of society to a political event, a series of events or a person of the national or world level.
Politoons as a medium in the country is grabbing eyeballs for while now with so many interesting content being created in that arena. One such animated politoon series is School of Democrazy to make the citizens aware about the political scenario and how it can be modified in a funny and humourous manner. Presented by Matchbox and directed by Abhishek Verma and Piyush Priyadarshi, the series varies between one and a half to two and a half minutes. School of Democrazy simplifies serious issues and makes it interesting for the audience to engage with. Launched in March, the first season of this animated series has five episodes and a teaser which are unbiased, honest and bang on point.
The audience gets to experience a riot of laughter, up close and personal with the political power struggles and the patch-ups happening in the ‘school’ aka the parliament. The series effectively illustrates the lighter side of politics in this action-packed election season.
Priyadarshi reveals the inspiration behind the series and the title, “In one of the most interesting times in the democratic journey of India, School of Democrazy draws a sarcastically-intelligent analogy of the parliament to a school with leading politicians of the country as students. The result is a complete joyride depicting the current turbulent political landscape, taking a jibe at each one of them. School of Democrazy leverages the evergreen tool of cartoon and animation, but at the same time, fills it with fresh breath of sharp humour.
Targeted at the age bracket of 18 to 40 years old who have some interest in politics, School of Democrazy was created by a small creative team of 12 people- ranging from aspiring journalists, film makers, experienced illustrators and animators. He added, “We didn’t take demographics into consideration much at all when pursuing something creative, whether it be School of Democrazy or any other project. When we plan something, we do it because it’s something we enjoy and something we want to see come to realisation. We treat ourselves as target audience for our product.”
Keeping humour topical and timely is the key for any politoon’s success, given how amazingly fast news breaks and the political landscape changes these days. Hence the creative had to be wise and efficient about the animation format they chose. “We set out to build a pipeline that allows us to produce at a very accelerated pace. We created character library in advance that allows us to turn around on a quick pace. Designing a character and making sure it works properly is a hump, but once you’ve gotten over it you can animate very quickly, that helps us keep on schedule. We lean on After effects puppet animation and rubberhose plugin,” mentioned Verma.
Targeting all the social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and so on, the creative team of School of Democrazy thinks that politoons nowadays holds quite significance in today’s time. When enquired about this current trend, Verma explained, “There are many reasons for the growing influence of political satire in India. Millennials are no longer interested in straight jacketed news Instead, they prefer to have unbiased, fact checked information on a lighter note. Political cartoons or Politoons play a very important bridge here. The main purpose of politoons is not only to amuse people but to persuade them.”
In the past, the fomenting political scene has led to many unfortunate events in the country involving creative minds that led to many questioning about the freedom of speech and expression. Commenting on this issue, Priyadarshi noted, “We believe in freedom to mock- For us as artistes, freedom means the right to use our art to speak the uncomfortable, so what if it is in politics. We very much believe in the proverb ‘-Satire is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted’. That’s why humour is important. We aim to bring the everyday real life political circus on screen through School of Democrazy and hold up the banner of freedom of expression.”
A project that aims to initiate change through an animated series that talks about important political aspects with a dash of wit and humour, is sure to have its share of challenges. As the director duo quipped, “We had to assemble a team, build a setup, and execute six episodes in a whirlwind two months. We went from one animator to a production team of 12 in such a less time that I’d like to think we did a better job in employment generation than the current government.”
Whatever be it, such amazing content with an important agenda behind it, is all the more welcome, and Matchbox along with the directors have done a great job. Now, it’s time for us-citizens to go out and make a change through our vote. Let’s not take our democratic right for granted!