Originals

Animated Folktales

-Maya Bhowmick

Folktales are stories of generations and their evolving culture which were passed on orally since the early existence of humans. These tales not only serve as a source of entertainment but it teaches the life lessons to the younger generations, guides their way in various steps of life not only being confined to moral lessons of life, the history of the people or the dynasty is also archived through these stories. While folktales is just a branch of the broad term ‘folk’, there are folk songs, folk music, folk dance, folk drama, folk art and so on. Everything out of folk throws light on the culture and heritage of the community and their norms. Almost all communities across the globe irrespective of their geographical divide have their own folk culture. Folktales help the younger generation to understand and know their culture more deeply and closely.

Over the years the way of transmission has seen a shift due to the advancement of technology. In the early stages, the folktales were passed on orally from one generation to another, in the later stage they started getting printed in book forms. The stories were written down in various forms of storytelling or comic books with cartoon characters for the children. In the present age with the technical development, the characters are given life through animations; the folktales have been marking their place in animations. The folktales are animated now to reach the audience, there are many tribes who use the modern medium of animation to preserve their folktales and also to make the newer generations know about their culture. Now the question arises why is it important to animate the folktales?

As we all know, folktales were orally transmitted at the early stages, when one group sat at the evening mostly after their day long work and exchanged the stories, sang their songs where the experienced ones were the narrators and the younger ones – the passive listeners, but with time the listeners turn into narrators and so it continued. But in the present day scenario of nuclear families, people hardly have time as most of the members work, children staying mostly in play schools or with house helpers, the culture of storytelling is dead somewhere. As the stories of their own culture are not shared with the children they grow up with the foreign culture that they watch on television or elsewhere. The younger generations stay ignorant to their culture and stories which leads to the death of the culture in the coming times. As animation is the new medium of effective communication the folktales in the form of animation will the serve the purpose of both entertainment and information. Through the form of entertainment the younger generation will get the knowledge of their cultures and customs.

It is a well-known fact that in today’s society, the popularity of folklore is gradually diminishing both as entertainment and art. In a place like India, this fact becomes even more nuanced as we see various cultures and languages as competing with each other for a prominence in the centre-stage of popularity as well as various factors causing a digital divide which manifests itself as the inequality in the archetypal tales of folklore as they fail to circulate equally among future generations. As a result, this cycle causes even more inequality in the perception of young people as they are more vulnerable to what is more popular at that point of time. It must also be noted that the preservation of indigenous culture itself has the circulation of folktales as one of its prime factors and are more at risk in a country of abundance of various tribes. The lack of the original spoken form of transmission has played out very negatively as this medium has become very rare due to its digital counterparts which are much more dependent on external factors. This is also the case for many indigenous languages being replaced by more modern and popular variants which can be said to go hand in hand with folklore. The loss of this folklore and some of the causes of its loss is something that needs much more research and can be actively called a cause for social concern. Not only are they enforcers of moral influence, but there are also some of the purest manifestations of culture in there. They also teach one a lot about the customs and usage of language of a particular place and time, especially for the conventions that have been diluted and lost with time.

The crossover of folk from spoken to modern in terms of medium has definitely been an uneven one which has resulted in the variations in its continuation as well as popularity. The folktales are being lost as they are not preserved; the people have either forgotten the tales or are unaware. While many folktales are animated such as ‘panchatantra’, ‘tenali rama’, ‘jataka tales’, ‘hitopadesh’, ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mahabharata’, ‘Akbar Birbal’, etc. Most of the Indian folktales found today are in Hindi, while the numerous regional languages are missing. The regional languages failing to preserve their stories will lead to their extinction in the future. To preserve and protect each regional culture the stories are needed to preserved through modern means.

There have been studies and conferences in India were eminent people, scholars and resource persons have discussed about the importance of bringing out the regional folktales to the audiences in a greater level, so that the knowledge is passed on rather than making it dead. When we say animated folktales, it not only serves as a source of entertainment in their local language but also let the people of the community know more about their own culture and language. The wider perspective of animating folktales is to let our stories go global, when a person from other part of the globe would watch our tale they would know our story, get some knowledge of regional society and language. The folktale reflects the particular society so when we preserve and put it up in a platform it will serve as a source of information for both the people inside the tribe mostly the younger ones and also for the global audience. It will also give recognition across the globe.

Maya Bhowmick is pursuing her Masters in Communication and Journalism from Gauhati University. She aims at making a career in Public Relations and News Writing.

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