Clouds turn into frothy waves and a tiny boat grows bigger, as a male voice begins to narrate the story of Kerala in an 11-minute video. It is the picture of foreigners coming to conquer a land centuries ago; a land that, according to myth, was created when Parashurama threw an axe into the sea and split it. The pictures keep changing as a history of centuries, carefully chosen and illustrated, gets narrated. There is pulsating background music and a plethora of colours, all created by a number of IT professionals in Kochi.
“It is the work of members who belong to various clubs that come under Prathidhwani, which is a socio-cultural organisation of IT professionals across the state,” says Binoy Xavier, who scripted the video, titled Keraleeyam. It was released on Kerala Piravi day.
Members of the arts club, Varakootam, worked on the paintings for more than two months, soon after Onam. That’s when Prathidhwani did the first such video, bringing together members of the various clubs – arts, music and film. The Onam video was all pictures and music, minus the text and narration.
For Keraleeyam, the group put in a lot more effort. They divided the work of data collection among themselves. Collecting information on history, choosing parts of it, editing it, and most importantly, fact-checking it, was a lot of work.
The art – more than 30 paintings – is the work of Bipin MK, Gopika P, Mittu Hari Bose, Vaisakh Krishnan, Vinod Pillai and Viswadas KP. Music came from Sreedhar R Menon, a member of the music club. Film club member Pyarelal did the editing. Only the narration was outsourced to a professional dubbing artiste, Babu Zacharias Pala.
“People know several of these incidents but not how they are connected – how the Portuguese came, how they left and the Dutch came, then the British, the renaissance that began to take shape much later. We also wanted to tell the lesser known stories of the renaissance,” Binoy says.
There is for instance, the story of Velayudha Panicker, a Thiyyar warrior from 19th century, who fought the oppression by the dominant caste that stripped Dalit women of their clothes and nose-studs. There are the stories of the more known renaissance heroes too – Ayyankali, who took a Dalit girl to school at a time when education was denied to the oppressed caste; Sree Narayana Guru, who consecrated a temple for all when Dalits were not allowed in places of worship built by the dominant caste, and many more.
“The video talks about two types of freedom – freedom from the Western powers that invaded us, and freedom from the social evils that discriminated us,” Binoy says.