Kolkata-based animators’ short film on the dangers of climate change garners global attention

A scene from ‘Wade’  

That climate change, and those who deny it, pose a threat bigger than a pandemic to our ecology and the sustenance of human life on Earth is a fact. Yet the subject gets little to no representation in popular mass mediums like films.

What mainstream Indian cinema overlooks for its perceived lack of ‘entertainment’ quotient, a team of graduates from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, took up as a challenge. They produced Wade, a 10-minute long animated short, that is now making people at virtual film festivals around the world sit up and take notice.

Co-directed by Kolkata-based Ghost Animation founders Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, 28, and Kalp Sanghvi, 26, Wade recently won the City of Annecy award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and has been selected for the Animayo International Film Festival of Animation in Spain, which is a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards. It has also been selected for the prestigious Palm Springs International ShortFest and Kraków Film Festival, among others.

Kalp Sanghvi

Kalp Sanghvi   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“It started with a news article we came across in 2016 about the Ghoramara Island in the Sundarbans [Delta]. It was drowning and hundreds of families had been displaced,” says Kalp, over the phone from Kolkata. “Kolkata, the city we grew up in, is less than a 100 kilometres north of Ghoramara, and it is likely that it too will start drowning in the future. The thought scared us and it sparked the idea for Wade,” he adds.

The horrors of ignorance

There is no talkie portion in Wade. The film’s protagonists are poor people, who, as Upamanyu says, “do not contribute to climate change” and yet are the first victims.

The action follows a family of climate change refugees. In a dystopian future where the Sundarbans are completely under water and Kolkata has turned into a floating city, the refugees are frowned upon. The locals hate their presence; there are banners and posters asking them to go back! But there is more danger lurking in the shallow waters of Kolkata. Climate change not only forced humans to migrate but also the Bengal tigers, and now after years of preying upon vulnerable refugees, the tigers have evolved into ruthless man-eaters.

Upamanyu Bhattacharyya

Upamanyu Bhattacharyya   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Troy Vasanth’s sound design adds to the eeriness you feel as a viewer when confronted with the horrors of an out-of-control climate change situation.

“The more you look around, the inevitability is what stands out. Our cities’ infrastructure is not ready to handle mass migration forced by climate change. The situation would be similar to what we have come up with in Wade,” remarks Upamanyu, over the phone from Italy, after he opted to stay put following the suspension of international flights since lockdown.

Wade is a product of over three-and-a-half years of hard work, says Kalp. The duo had an able team, most of whom were also NID graduates. “Wade’s progression was a bit on and off. We would make some money on other projects, put that into this film and resume work by bringing in more people,” says Upamanyu, who has previously worked with filmmaker Mani Ratnam to design the animated title sequence for OK Kanmani as well as on the storyboard for Kaatru Veliyidai, a period he learnt the “whys of cinema, framing and composition”.

The film was also partly crowdfunded. “There were at least 30 artists who worked on processes like sound, animation, and background art,” adds Kalp, who worked with director Umesh Shukla for the title credits of the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer 102 Not Out.

Producing Wade has been a learning curve for the duo, who say that this experience puts them in good stead as they seek to branch out into ambitious feature film length animated projects.

Upamanyu says he is working on another animated short Ten, a dark comedy, and an animated feature film set in Ahmedabad called City of Threads. Kalp adds that he is working on an animated series called Rajbari: The Ancestral House besides his other commitment with the Wildlife Trust of India — he is producing an animated short about tiger conservation called Remains.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 5:46:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/kolkata-based-animators-short-film-on-the-dangers-of-climate-change-garners-global-attention/article32051194.ece

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