‘Tapta’ is synonymous for some imaginary being children of the Meitei community are made afraid about in order to help them go to sleep and to stop crying.
Were you able to “see” the film in your mind before you started to work on it?
Yes, it is simple, funny, interesting, straight and absorbing.
Did you consider that the importance of including a tribal perspective in the animation project?
Definitely. The folk story of Tapta had been there before the advent of Hinduism in Manipur. There were lots of similarities between the plain people and the hills people in ancient time. There were lots of communities in different parts of the state both in the hills and the valley. And each area had unique style and tradition. Representation of tribal perspective is difficult to assess as there are more than 26 distinctive ethnic communities. Inclusion of hill area as a location with some adventure there surely brings the essence of being tribal in a broad sense. On top of that, tribal people should put extra effort to preserve the tradition including folk stories and culture to avoid extinction.
Did you think of how others would view the fact that there was no tribal participation or involvement in the project?
Prospective Tribal film makers/ animators should be identified and groomed. Mere invitation won’t attract them. The aesthetic gap between the tribal and the others is a big barrier for the tribal people to come forward. The tribal people are too attached with their area/villages as the community environment is their only world and comfort zone. So, they should be invented and explored. It’s always a problem. Extra effort is required to boost their confidence outside their comfort zones. Some people with spears in a hilly area will denote involvement of tribal people. To be particular about a tribe needs extensive research work which the youths of today have little knowledge about. Extra effort is called for to bring them to the common environment.
Who is going to complete the animation film from Manipur?
If there is a will there is a way.
What is the underlying point of the “Tapta” story?
Different perspectives of different people somewhat in the line of Rashomon. But it is told comically. The simple and straight forward narration of Tapta may probably be a yummy starter before a heavy professional meal of animation. Definitely a treat for children.
How does it translate across cultures? How will it be understood and received by people who are not from Manipur?
Still there is no definite structure of Tapta. It is an imaginary creature especially use in a form of narrative lullaby. So, every culture can relate to Tapta. Even the tiger as well as the thief have their own imagination about Tapta. It is very universal where one can play with one’s own imagination. The Manipuriness is only a means to narrate the story.
Did you consider how to represent the contemporary situation in Manipur in the animation film project?
It’ll be damn disturbing. Because the contemporary situation (law, order, political, social etc.) is too gloomy and dark. Literally, power cut is rampant. It can be an art animation film. But contemporary situations in aesthetics and sports are the only silver linings.
How did your performance in the workshop compare with the rest of the group?
So and so.
Will you be able to complete the animation film all by yourself?
Yes, with financial and colleagues’ assistance.