Popular Arunachal folk tale of ‘Abotani’ will be animated soon

Outside Arunachal Pradesh very few people know about Abotani and his exploits, but with a London-based trust planning to make an animated movie on the mythical hero, the folk tales can now soon reach a wider audience as reported by PTI. Adivasi Arts Trust, a London-based organisation, works for reviving indigenous arts and culture through digital media and animation, hopes to release the movie by the year-end. Abotani is the hero of folktales of Tani tribes of the Himalayan state comprising Apatani, Nyishi, Adi, Tagin and Hill Miri tribes. The story of the film titled ‘Abotani’ revolves around his attempt to free himself and his friends Kiipu (a dog) and Duumpoo (a deer) from the clutches of Digo Ane (Keeper of Land) and his relation with brother Yapom, a spirit. The makers of the movie have a plan to screen it in schools, festivals and cultural events in Arunachal Pradesh as well as UK. The secretary of the trust, Tara Douglas, told PTI in an e-mail interview, “The movie, which we are planning to release by the end of this year, gives a message of mankind’s interdependence on the natural and supernatural worlds.” The pre-production work for the short film was made in an animation workshop at the Department of Mass Communication in Rajiv Gandhi University, Doimukh in 2013 in collaboration with the Centre for Cultural Research and Documentation, Douglas said. The animation models were made by British animation model professional Jonathan Marchant from the designs made in the workshop, she said adding they were also inspired by the traditional art exhibited in the JN State Museum in Itanagar. Douglas said two miniature huts made of bamboos in the traditional Galo style were taken all the way to Delhi from Arunachal to be used on the set. She said that they were at present trying to source original folk music from the Tani group of tribes to be used in the soundtrack of the film. “We are planning to dub the film into several local languages of the Tani tribes as well as in Arunachalee Hindi and English,” Douglas said. Douglas, a graduate in animation from West Surrey College of Art and Design in the UK, has been working for preservation of tribal folktales in India through animation. ‘Abotani’ will be screened as part of their Tales of the Tribes – a series of five animated folktales from indigenous communities in India. The four other films – Story of the Peacock (Pardhan Gond tribe of Madhya Pradesh), Man Tiger Spirit (Angami tribe of Nagaland), Tapta (Meitei tribe of Manipur) and Nye Mayel Kyong (Lepcha tribe of Sikkim) – are in different stages of production. The series will be of 30-minute duration and each film will be of five to six minutes. Abotani is considered the primal ancestor of the Tani tribes and the first to introduce the technique of paddy cultivation.

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