‘Myth-o-Katha’: A series of animated GIFs from the house of Vaanarsena Studios

India is a melting pot of cultures, history, mythology and many more. With such an enriching canvas spread across varied genres, India never fails to fascinate with its tales, folklores, stories, incidents, art, sculptures and so on. These are so vast and almost unfathomable, that an entire lifetime may not be enough to explore its every aspect. But as change is the only constant and in this hour when time itself is the most precious thing, these aspects remain buried under the heaps of deadlines, work and the monotonous routined life. A greeting or a wish or passing down any information are now mostly limited to a social media post or a WhatsApp text. We’re more prone to checking a quick text rather than a hefty video, irrespective of the content sometimes. Hence, animators and storytellers are finding new ways to reach out to a wider diaspora by means of technology. Taking a cue from this, Vaanarsena Studios ‘senapati’ Vivek Ram has started an animated GIF series, Myth-o-Katha, with lesser known facts on the mythological character Parashu Rama from today. The name itself suggests the mix of two perspectives on the tales of ancient India. The West sees it as ‘myths’ where as we see them as ‘katha’ i.e. stories, which makes these tidbits open to interpretation. “The concept of Myth-o-Katha has been created by me. I had the need to share a tonnes of stories, and needed quicker delivery format for it, without using still images. Thus was born Myth-o-Katha…To me, it is similar to simple classroom sessions as the kind where you’d probably take five minutes off to share a quick fact to the students.  This is also why the background of the animated loop is also designed to look similar to a chalkboard,” Ram mentioned. A GIF is a quick and easy way of putting a point across to a mass of people these days. The current trend of social media has made it easy to consume content, but at the same time the attention spans are getting shorter.
Vivek Ram
When asked about why did he choose this particular format to spread the lesser known facts of mythology, Ram added, “GIFs spread more awareness about our culture and mythology by making it appealing in look and absorb content that lasts just a few seconds. Frequency of content has also become key. I have been working on the video clip of Ancient Indian Stories, which takes me roughly three weeks. Here enters Myth-o-Katha, to keep the audience engaged and to give them something to look forward to. We have had a great response due to these gifs, people like them, they are easily shareable and we also have fifteen more of these at the ready.” With a team of two animators, Surbhi Gupta and Dakshata Tripathi and a writer, Shamika Singh, the ideating has mainly been done between Singh and Ram, in terms of finding stories and filtering out the ones we could chalk into the category of interest for the people on social media. “We took up simple things like, ‘why is Parashuram called  Parashuram’, or ‘do you know how old Ram was when he fought Raavan’? The animators help out with the cleanup of the animated loop giving it the required polish before putting it together to make a final GIF sequence,” Ram exclaimed. The animation format of the GIF is classical, all of it being hand drawn. Good designs play a huge role in making an overall appeal and Myth-o-Katha takes advantage of this style in a loop with a fun imagery, while one reads the content and simultaneously gets a chance to enjoy both the text and the visual. Ram noted, “Japanese Anime has been a huge influence, which mainly animates only the necessary bits and pieces of the art work while the other areas remain static. The format becomes a great practice ground to work on larger ones with a similar animation style. The planning takes the most time and has its own limitations. Everything has to fit to a side of the page, look fun/cool and loop at the same time so that it stays interesting. Once the action is planned out, I do a rough animation and my team takes it from there and cleans it up.” Myth-o-Katha will focus on one character across three GIFs a week ( to be out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 am on social media platforms. Besides Parashu Rama, there will be several personalities of ancient India, such as Rama, Krishna, Durga, Ganesha, Kali and eventually will take in lesser known characters with prominent tales that the masses are not so familiar with. The series will also find will have ‘kathas’ on several events that are written during that time period opening a new up a window for a slew of Myth-o-Katha(s). There will also be a compiled video of the week, published on Youtube every Saturday on Vaanarsena’s channel and on IGTV. Apart from Myth-o-Katha series, the studio also have Ancient Indian Stories set in their pipeline, to be out by next month. Seems like we’re going to have a treat of time with these fascinating yet knowledgeable information, coated with fun and great animation.