The platform started from June 2019 and offers a repertoire of over 400 stories in 40 art forms.
Where do folk tales come from? Passed down verbally from generation to generation, the tales are transformed as each narrator appropriates them. Many are forgotten for lack of archiving. The allure of forever brighter entertainment available to us also doesn’t help these stories endure. As Cartoon Network, YouTube and Netflix threaten to replace our precious bedtime stories, a group of Indian artists, with help from the British Council, are organizing storytelling festivals to breathe new life into this dying art form.
Folk Log is an initiative to archive folk tales from all over India, including West Bengal. The platform hosted its first online storytelling festival on Monday, March 30. Of the 12 artists featured at the festival, three were Bengali, and their stories worked like a time machine, taking us back to simpler times, where content creation didn’t take millions. dollars and hundreds of “miscellaneous crews.”
One of the organizers, classical dancer Arupa Lahiry, told Dhaka Tribune Showtime that Folk Log was a favorite project of Vandana Pant, who was concerned about the different forms of storytelling dying in South Asia. The platform started in June 2019 and offers a repertoire of over 400 stories in 40 art forms.
“On the second day of the coronavirus shutdown, I told Vandana we should have a storytelling festival,” she said. “People are stressed and scared and they need to be delighted with a different world. So we decided to do this festival one day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in different languages.
“Parents don’t have time to tell stories and children don’t have time to listen to stories,” Arupa said of his inspiration behind building this archive. “The only time they hear stories is at school where they don’t hear local folk stories, but English stories. In Bangladesh you have such great stories, but it doesn’t come to children anymore. We want to preserve these stories and pass them on to people. ”
At the festival, some storytellers used puppets, others used plays, but one of the most interesting stories, according to Arupa, was that of filmmaker Ranjan Ghosh (Ahaa Ré, Hrid Majharey), whose story was actually three stories woven into one.
Ranjan, who heard his mother’s folk tale, told us it was his first time telling a story live. His sources of folk tales were his family members, who told him stories of Thakurmar Jhuli to put him to sleep when he was a child.
“Back then, we had to imagine the visuals,” he said. “Not every story can be made into a movie and there is only a limited number of movies we can make in our lifetime, but with such online storytelling we can explore new, original stories. as well as folk stories. ”
“There is a celebration of humanism and goodness in these stories,” he noted. “There is an element of fantasy and magical realism in these stories, which appeal to me a lot… I have the impression that a long time ago, humans could communicate with nature. Then, when we started to exploit nature, we stopped understanding their language.
One of the other Bengali storytellers, Sanchaita Bhattacharjee, a 35-year-old theater actor, told us that while there are some native characteristics of Bengali stories, they resemble stories from all over India.
“All stories tend to have a moral,” she said. “Back then (when these stories were born) it was necessary to save your life for future generations. At the same time, life was very hard and basic and they needed a sense of wonder beyond the human realm. “
If you missed the stories the first time around, the second edition of the festival will take place on April 12.