“There is a forest… All animals and birds are busy stocking food before the monsoon sets in…They have ensured that their homes are well-protected. But there is this monkey who is not concerned and is irresponsible like some people in our society…” Actor Vinay Forrt is narrating a story in a video shot from his home in Fort Kochi, with his three-and-half-year old son, Vihaan, standing next to him. The video is for the Facebook page of Kamura Art Community, a collective of artistes and art lovers based in Kozhikode.
Vinay is among the storytellers featured in ‘Story Shots’, initiated by the Community during the lockdown with the motto, ‘a chain of stories to heal and connect’. It was launched on April 4 with a story narrated by actor-producer Joju George.
Among others who’ve associated with the project are actors Unniraja and Vinod Kovoor, art director Anees Nadodi and author Kalpatta Narayanan. “Scenarist Muhsin Parari and actor-storyteller Manu Jose have agreed to be part of the project,” says M Noushad, one of the founders of the Community. Kamura was started three years ago as a forum to use art for “youth empowerment and social awareness.” Among its core members are those who have studied together and have an affinity for theatre. “Besides street plays and workshops, we have conducted art-based therapy sessions for children who survived the floods in Wayanad and Pathanamthitta. We strongly believe that art can heal and bond,” Noushad points out.
When the lockdown was announced, the collective brainstormed for plans to reach out to people confined to their homes. “Our initial plan was to share stories through Zoom app with those in quarantine. But that posed several practical difficulties. That’s when we decided to take stories to the entire society. Through our network of friends in various fields, we could rope in many reputed names. At the same time, we are featuring some amazing storytellers who may not be celebrities,” Noushad says.
The brief given to the storytellers was that they shouldn’t include any personal experiences or make the story preachy. Within five minutes, they could put forward only observations or morals connected to that particular story.
Vinay, who was introduced to the collective through Anees Nadodi, an active member of Kamura, says that he was looking for an opportunity to connect with people in this troubled times and he didn’t have to think twice when he was approached by the team. “I came across this story on the Internet. It had humour as well as a message,” says the actor, adding that the story conveys that when we offer advice or help to a person, ensure that the latter deserves it.
Kalpatta Narayanan shared a tale about Jesus Christ, while Joju recollected a tale that inspires him as an artiste. “We all have dreams and it is important to stay wise and intelligent when we pursue those dreams,” says the actor in the video.
Meanwhile, Anees, art director of films such as Varathan, Luca, Sudani from Nigeria and Thamasha took up a Chinese myth about how waves were formed. There was this beautiful girl in a village who was cursed and if someone fell in love with her or touched her, she would melt away. Eventually, she falls in love with a villager and one day they disappear into the ocean. They were reborn as waves that still don’t touch each other, goes the story. “It has no message. But such tales need to be told because only then will we believe in strange things that happen around us, like the present situation. Who would’ve thought that there would be a viral outbreak and that all of us would be forced to go in for a lockdown?” muses Anees.
Anshif Majeed is the coordinator of ‘Story Shots’ and Muhsin is the creative and technical head. The team is planning to launch a children’s edition featuring stories narrated by children. “We want to keep the chain running as long as possible,” adds Noushad.
Check out the Facebook page Kamura Art Community to listen to the stories