Set in a coastal village, amidst the heat of the Indian summer and the stench of dried fish, the short, Fisherwoman & Tuk Tuk will be screened at NCPA this weekend. With a simple narrative and quirky characterisation and animation, it tells the story of a middle-aged fisherwoman and her struggles to buy an autorickshaw. Excerpts from an interview with the director Suresh Eriyat:
Q. How did the idea for the film occur to you?
A. In 2009, I was driving down to Famous Studios in Mahalaxmi. During a traffic halt, I saw a group of carefree and loud fisherwomen at the signal. I considered their confident stance, and wondered whether they would have pursued a different profession had their socio-economic situation been different. That particular incident inspired me to make Fisherwoman & Tuk Tuk.
Artists record the film's soundtrack
Q. Tell us about the characters.
A. It’s a simple, immortal love story between a middle-aged fisherwoman and her autorickshaw. The film does not conform to the norms of animation films like having lovable characters. My protagonist in the film is loud, plump and robust. It was a deliberate choice to portray the fisherwoman as aggressive, brash and surly, and not angelic, beautiful or sweet. It breaks the stereotyped image of a hero/heroine while driving home the point of not taking people at face value. The harsh exterior of the fisherwoman covers softer elements of her personality. She has a combination of masculine and feminine attributes as she is tough and hard with her customers and neighbouring vendors but her kindness is visible when she deals with pet cats. The film’s characters and background have an exaggerated attitude and vibrant colours.
A crew member records the sound of an autorickshaw for the film
Q. Is it targeted at children?
A. The film targets a mature audience. Children will also enjoy watching it, but it would be interesting to see their interpretation of the story. I hope the film breaks the perception of animation films being only for children.
The film poster
Q. What is the animation technique used?
A. It’s a 3D animated film with painted textures for the characters and the background. Our aim was to provide that in India, where there are people who can tell powerful stories using animation skills where we create and design various genres of stories.
Q. What were the challenges you faced while making the film?
A. Fisherwoman & Tuk Tuk took nearly seven years in the making. Besides a severe lack of funding, there were many challenges. We began the pre-production work in 2009, but my team at Eeksaurus left the project midway, because they didn’t believe in it. We restarted our work with a new 10-member team and completed the film in February 2015. The biggest challenge was to keep the film working with the focus it required while running parallel commercial projects in the studio.
Q. Indian animation films and shorts have not been on par with what the west produces, especially in the way that animated features find acceptance. Is that changing?
A. Animation in India is still considered a technique as opposed to a medium of storytelling. If you look at VFX-based films, it took a while to understand and acknowledge its importance. It’s a welcome change. There is an audience for animation films; we need to get the right sensibility across departments to change the game all over again. In India, animation feature films, distributors and producers like to play safe. They place their bet on films with mythological characters as they think the audience knows them. We hope our film inspires a lot many individuals to make their own films.
On: July 8, 6.30 pm
At: Little Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.