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This animation workshop was conceived in response to a curatorial proposition which led to the exhibition 'Bare Acts', curated by Arushi Vats and held at Shrine Empire Gallery, Delhi, 1st Dec. to 13 Jan 2023. Arushi's curatorial note proposed thinking about law in the rubric of lived experience as a community.

When Arushi invited me to respond to this curatorial note as an artist, I approached Muskaan, Bhopal team for a possible collaborative project. Muskaan has worked for 25 years with the DNT (Denotified and Nomadic Tribes) communities in and around Bhopal and having known their immense and longstanding work within these communities and also having worked on two of their publications as an illustrator, I felt that our collaboration might open up further avenues for sharing the voices of the DNT communities in a larger field.

During my eventual conversations with the Muskaan team, they suggested that I organise an animation workshop for the children of these communities (Pardhi and Kanjar) studying at Mitti ka Ghar, a school started and run by Muskaan, Bhopal, India. I was myself making a stop motion animation film at the time and had designed a multi-plane animation table in my Delhi studio together with a friend and collaborator Shivi Bhatnagar. So it seemed like an apt and timely suggestion to do a workshop for the children and set up an animation table for them at the school.

In preparation for the workshop, which I co-conducted with film maker Maheen Mirza, I guided the construction of a multi-plane animation table on phone while Maheen, who is based in Bhopal, co ordinated the making of the table at the school itself. It was a six days workshop where I introduced story boarding, character development, movement and sound in animation to the children. I did this through practical exercises and through showing multiple films to the children to introduce them to different kinds of silhouette and stop motion films. Maheen, Shivani (another educator at the school) and I had picked a few possible stories on which to base the film, in advance of the workshop. All these stories were by the members of the communities themselves. We finalised on a Pardhi story by Tasveer Parmar.

When I arrived in Bhopal for the workshop, I had already prepared a storyboard for the film. The children prepared the backgrounds and the characters based on the storyboard and then I introduced a stop motion app to them which we used to shoot our film. Maheen led the sound recording and the editing processes during the workshop. During the six days we managed to make a short 3 minutes animation film called 'Ek Rasta Jungle Ka'.

This film was shown at the exhibition 'Bare Acts' alongside some other materials such as another earlier film by Maheen and the children, drawings, audios, documents and children's books. Some of these other materials emerged from various engagements with these communities, led by different people, over the past many years at Muskaan.

The multi-plane table we constructed for the workshop now remains at the school for the children to experiment with on their own.

Here is the text that accompanied this collaborative exhibition:

Titar Udi Riye (Flying Partridges)

'People, ordinarily carry with pride prefixes as ex-MLA, ex-MP, ex-IAS, ex-Judge, etc. commanding respect, I, on the other hand would be known as an “ex-criminal”. Not because I committed any crime, but because I am born in a particular tribe. What’s worse is that not just this title, I shall pass on this inglorious legacy to my generations to come just as I inherited this from my forefathers. I am not alone in this ordeal as people born across the 198 other tribes become my brethren. With the title, I shall also pass on the prejudices, regardless of my personal achievements in life.'
-Nihal Singh Rathod, Human Rights Lawyer.

The Criminal Tribes Act was brought in 1871 to control the foot soldiers  of the Independence Mutiny. It allowed the rulers to force entire communities into 'settlement camps' and extract subsidized labour from them for British projects.
Post independence, in 1952, people were released from these camps but with no livelihood yet a stigma of being 'denotified'.

The Pardhi and Kanjar children, here present glimpses of their lives, a reality which continues to bears witness to this legacy.

-Anjali Nanoriya, Devki Nanoriya, Divya Pawar, Dwarka ‘Wish’ Netam, Gajendra Sarthi, Jasveer parmar, Karuna chouhan, Kunal chouhan, Mandeep Pawar, Naina Pawar, Pravin Pawar, Rehan Pawar, Selija Pawar, Tasveer Parmar, Yogesh Pawar with Shivani, Maheen Mirza and Shefalee Jain

Muskaan is a non-profit, non-governmental organization which works with vulnerable basti communities in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on issues of education, identity, violence, health and survival needs. Their primary focus is on the education of children unable to access mainstream schools.


with Behind The Scenes

Workshop images:


Installation and Exhibition Images:


Poster for 'Ek Rasta Jungle Ka':

FINAL POSTER-2024-02-16-14-49-46-621.jpg
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