From nature conservation to looking beyond virtual life, Ekabhuya Animation raises strong voice

Climate change has been evident for sometime now and as recent searches have showed, it’s taking turns for the worse. All of us have seen what adverse effects it can have on the environment and the world we’re living in. For instance – Chennai. Scientists are concerned about even more drastic effects that could befall us in the near future if we don’t start conserving nature immediately. 

Probably this have triggered animation studio Ekabhuya Animation to create animated clip The Warli Revolt that’s inspired from the Warli art of the tribal people living in and around the jungles of the Aarey Colony, Mumbai. The animated piece with spoken word poetry and the lyrics by Prakash Bhoir (tribal leader) and Swadesi Nation (a rap group from Mumbai), voices a protest against cutting down the trees and saving the last surviving Warli tribe in their natural environment. The clip shows how we need to strike a balance and draw a line without disturbing an entire ecosystem of wildlife and human life for the sake of urbanisation. 

Ekabhuya Animation co-founder and producer Shivangi Ranawat said, “The Warli Revolt is an important film in its time. It is a tribute to the dying folk art of Warli and the story of the warli tribes living in and around the forest, their ongoing struggle to save the homes and the forest for the sake of urban development. This film sheds light on the urgency to preserve our natural heritage and cultural legacy.”

Animation as a medium is a strong form of expression that’s gaining momentum with every passing day. The Warli Revolt is more of a personal project for Ekabhuya Animation co-founder and creative head Janmeet Singh.The concept for the film was to represent reality through the visual art form about the tribes inhabiting the area. The animation style for this film is unique and captivating that makes you sit up and think about the concept it portrays. The Warli art is unique and indegenous to the people and still in practice. Inspired by local artisan Dinesh Barap, this short film originates to take the viewer into the tribal lands and the way they see the world.

 Talking about the process of animation and the execution of the film, Ranawat added, “The idea was to keep the style rooted, traditional to bring out an earthy texture to the film. We decided to draw every frame to give justice to the warli traditional art while creating complex interwoven patterns using minimal warli elements. Each character or warli figure was animated separately and then composed in After Effects. Besides After Effects, we worked mostly with Photoshop and Krita. 

The rap is narrated in Marathi and Hindi, and culminated through a lot of research by sitting with Bhoir that included sustainable living, recycling, farming, lifestyle of tribes, communication and interaction with the modern world.”

The team that worked behind this film, Swadesi, is an artist collective of four emcees, DJs, music producers and graffiti artists. Collaborating with Bhoir and the tribes in the area, they came up with an original soundtrack with tribal beats and mesmerising Tarpa (tribal wind instrument). The soundtrack was composed by Naar and Abhishek Shindolkar with the chorus and the verses in marathi by Bhoir. The three emcees wrote their verses in the language they felt comfortable and was later passed on to Joshua Fernendez for arranging, mixing and mastering.

But the film had its share of challenges. As Ranawat informed, “Visually there were not many challenges.The real challenge was on the ground with the tribals and the government authorities.

Besides The Warli Revolt, Ekabhuya Animation also had created Mizaaj.  Mizaaj is a beautiful track by The Local Train- Music Band. The film which looks into the fast paced world where technology is infused in our day to day lives and we fail to notice simple expressions of life. The adventure of meeting someone or the possibility of interaction with a stranger, sharing a common emotion is diminishing as we give more importance to the virtual world. This virtual world is becoming more real. 

“Keeping this thought in mind, we were exploring the mundane pattern of this human behaviour and breaking free from the cycle. The storytelling style was open ended as each individual will interpret the visuals in their own manner. We also wanted to break the pattern of feeding information. Different experiences of each person combined together completes a larger fractal pattern,” shared Ranawat.

Mizaaj is an outcome of the collaboration of The Local Train and Ekabhuya Animation on this project has been a very memorable journey. The video is fast paced and talks about technology, personal freedom or freedom as an illusion, art , music, industry, media and forced information.There is a sense of a journey, feeling of despair and hope, a call to free oneself from virtual bonds. It is a call to pull the plug from the virtual world which is today’s reality.

About the execution of the film, Ranawat concluded, “The style in the video is a photo-montage style inspired from Hannah Höch a German Artist, originator of photo-montage style. It is a type of collage in which the pasted items are actual photographs, or photographic reproductions pulled from the press and other widely produced media. We have used more than 10,000 elements in the video which is a small fraction of the amount of information an average person consumes in a day. Use of photographic images and news-paper clippings  allowed us to create an abstract world keeping the essence of realism intact. The style also became an integral part of the story-telling as we played with the perspective and scale to convey a narrative symbolically. We are not medium bound as we used many techniques from 2D, 3D, photo clippings, also shot some of the sequences.”

With such different topics covered in their own unusual way, Ekabhuya Animation definitely promises to gift us better and amazing works of art in the coming days.