Student from Hyderabad makes short film with Kondapalli toys, wins international accolades

Abhinav shares insights into the inspiration, challenges, and broader vision behind BAND and his startup, Capybara Studios

By Anoushka Caroline Williams  Published on  25 Feb 2024 8:52 AM GMT
Student from Hyderabad makes short film with Kondapalli toys, wins international accolades

Hyderabad: Abhinav Sai Kolla, a B.Des (Hons.) Product Design student at Woxsen University Hyderabad, recently won accolades at the Indo-French International Film Festival for his film BAND, a pioneering work featuring traditional Kondapalli toys.

In this interview, Abhinav shares insights into the inspiration, challenges, and broader vision behind BAND and his startup, Capybara Studios.

Choice of Kondapalli toys

Q. Can you share the inspiration behind creating the BAND and choosing Kondapalli toys as the focal point for your film?

A. BAND stemmed from my desire to showcase and preserve India’s rich traditional crafts, particularly Kondapalli toys. These toys have a storied history, yet their craft is gradually fading. I observed a trend where other Indian traditional toys were falsely labelled as Kondapalli, highlighting the need to rekindle awareness and appreciation for this craft. Films have historically served as powerful mediums for marketing toys, which inspired me to use the same approach to rejuvenate interest in Kondapalli toys.

Q. BAND is being hailed as the first-ever film made with traditional Kondapalli Toys. What challenges did you face in bringing these traditional toys to life on the screen while preserving their authenticity?

A: Transforming static Kondapalli toys into dynamic characters on screen posed several challenges. Balancing authenticity with entertainment was paramount. I opted to create the pilot episode in Telugu – the language of the craftsmen – to maintain authenticity. Additionally, meticulous research and 3D scanning ensured that the toys accurately depicted their real-life counterparts. Blending cultural authenticity with engaging storytelling requires careful consideration at every stage of production.

Response from industry

Q. Your film demonstrates an innovative approach by incorporating functionality into static Kondapalli toys. Can you elaborate on how you achieved this and what kind of response have you received from audiences and the film industry?

A. BAND introduces functionality into traditional Kondapalli toys, enhancing their appeal to contemporary audiences. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Industry professionals like Swapna from Vyjayanthi Movie and Nag Ashvin, director of KALKI 2898 AD, were highly impressed by my pitch and the Kondapalli Kalki toy I created. As a result, I’ve signed an NDA with Vyjayanthi Movie for a potential collaboration, although I’m unable to disclose further details at this time. Similarly, Krish, the director of the upcoming film Hari Hara Veeramallu has shown keen interest in my film and expressed a desire to take it to the next stage. These interactions indicate promising developments on the horizon.

Q. Starting as a classroom project and evolving into a graduation project, BAND has now earned a prestigious award. How has the journey of creating this film shaped your perspective on traditional art and craft in India?

A. The journey of creating BAND has been transformative, shaping my perspective on traditional art and craft in India. It underscores the importance of preserving and promoting these crafts in innovative ways. Winning in an international film festival has always been a part of my pitch even before I wrote a single line of my story for the film. It validates our startup’s mission and attracts more support towards our vision.

Academic background

Q. As a B.Des (Hons.) Product Design student at Woxsen University, how did your academic background contribute to your ability to blend functionality and artistry in your film?

A. My academic background in B.Des (Hons.) Product Design at Woxsen University provided me with a deep understanding of animation software and processes, enabling me to bring the characters to life. Moreover, my education allowed me to comprehend the underlying challenges faced by craftsmen and inspired me to innovate by adding joints to the physical toys, enhancing playability for children.

Q. Your film seems to have a broader vision beyond just being a cinematic piece. Can you tell us more about your startup, Capybara Studios, and how BAND fits into your larger strategic vision for promoting Kondapalli toys?

A. BAND represents a pivotal milestone in Capybara Studios’ mission to champion traditional Indian crafts, marking the inaugural venture with Kondapalli toys. As we aim to emulate the success of Disney in India, our broader vision encompasses innovative storytelling to reignite fascination with various Indian toy crafts among modern-world audiences.

Future for traditional forms

Q. India has a rich heritage of traditional art and craft. How do you see the role of young talents, like yourself, in contemporising these traditional forms while ensuring cultural authenticity?

A. Young talents play a pivotal role in contemporising traditional art and craft while preserving cultural authenticity. Through innovative approaches and interdisciplinary collaborations, we can breathe new life into age-old crafts, making them relevant to modern audiences. By striking a balance between tradition and innovation, we ensure that these crafts continue to thrive and evolve for generations to come.

Q. BAND showcases characters with dynamic body parts, such as moving hands, necks, and legs. What was the creative process behind bringing these characters to life and giving them a modern twist?

A. Bringing the characters in BAND to life was a journey that merged the timeless appeal of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary animation techniques and innovative joint mechanisms. I explored different animation styles to achieve seamless movement while retaining the essence of Kondapalli toys. Throughout the process of creating the physical toys, I experimented with various joints to ensure they were both functional and suitable for children to play with. The objective was to infuse these characters with a modern flair while preserving their cultural heritage, striking a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.

OTT release

Q. Your plan to distribute these films through OTT platforms or TV channels is intriguing. What impact do you hope to achieve by bringing traditional Indian crafts to a global audience through these media?

A. We’re on a mission to introduce traditional Indian crafts, like Kondapalli toys, to a global audience through distribution on OTT platforms and TV channels. Our goal is to increase awareness and appreciation for these crafts worldwide, expanding the market for Kondapalli toys and ensuring the craft’s longevity. Through showcasing India’s rich cultural heritage, we aim to promote cross-cultural exchange and collaboration. Ultimately, we want traditional Indian crafts to be recognised and celebrated globally as valuable cultural treasures.

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