Hunched over his desk for days on end, Delhi's Abhishekh Verma, 27, spent hours drawing the right fish to cook the perfect script for his hand-drawn, animated film, Maacher Jhol.
Abhishekh Verma made 5,000 hand-made drawings for the film
Verma's project is an 11.30 minute long, two dimensional (2D) animation movie with hand drawn images, and is likely to air online. The storyline revolves around a 34-year-old homosexual, who comes out to his father, and this he chooses to do over his dad's favourite meal of Maacher Jhol, giving the film its name.
Stills for the animation film, Maacher Jhol. In 2D hand-drawn animation, one second of animation needs eight to 12 drawings
"In 2D hand-drawn animation, one second of animation needs eight to 12 drawings. A minute of animation needs at least 500 drawings. For the over 11 minute film, I had to make 5,000 coloured, hand-drawn images," said Verma, an alumnus of IIT Bombay's Industrial Design Centre.
He says the idea for the movie came to him while he was in college and a friend on campus came out to him. “He was afraid that I'd stop socialising with him after learning of his sexual orientation. It was his fear of stigma that touched me. That was the moment I decided to make the film,” the filmmaker said.
After graduating, he teamed up with Jayesh Bhosale, co-writer of Maacher Jhol, to make a move about Lalit, the 34-year-old gay man, who hopes his father will accept and understand his choices.
A sense of foreboding and fear resonate with almost everyone within the community, said Aditya Shankar, a student at IIT Bombay and member of the on-campus Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) resource group, Saathi.
“Films like these create a discourse and push for active engagement. They help sensitise others about the struggles queer people face. In IIT alone, so much is being done for sensitising students and faculty on the issue using theatre and film. It is heartening to see someone like Abhishek Verma take the effort forward outside campus too,” said Shankar.
Jamuura, an online platform for aspiring independent filmmakers has given Verma an initial funding of one lakh. The film, which took Verma six months to make, has cost around Rs 7 lakh and is slated for completion by the middle of this month. A crowd funding campaign has also been floated, to help the movie find backers for release.
The online space has always been a comfort zone for the queer community, given the anonymity the medium offers. Cinema, though, is now tackling LGBT issues with grit, too. “Cinema has always been a reflection of society and it has matured over the years,” signs off Harish Iyer, well-known gay rights activist.
Over to a plate of Maacher Jhol then.
Saathi, the LGBT resource group at IIT Bombay, began in 2011 with only two members. It now has over 40 members who identify themselves as queer. The group is working towards creating a positive space for LGBT people to discover and come to terms with their sexual orientation.