Published: 03rd June 2020
Here's how this Facebook page is documenting Malayalam tales and reviving the art of storytelling
Oritathoritath, which started off as a Facebook page now has its YouTube channel and an android app
Once upon a time, five years ago to be precise, Dilip Varma was caught up in the monotony of a hectic corporate job in Mumbai. He was away from his family, in a city far, far away. It was on one of those days that Varma decided to take a walk down the memory lane. He then saw his younger self listening curiously to the stories that his grandmother told him, sitting in the comfort of their house in Kochi.
Now these weren't stories of Cinderella or Three Little Pigs or Jack and the Beanstalk. The stories were all narrated in Malayalam and most of them were not documented anywhere. Now in the other part of the country, his grandmother still narrated the stories to his children. Years later, the stories did not cease to fascinate Varma, who's now an adult. So, the next time he got home, Varma recorded his grandmother narrate the story to his son, on his mobile phone.
"It is almost impossible to find these stories anywhere for future generations to listen to. That was when I thought that I must create a platform to document them, in their original oral format," says Varma. This led to him starting Oridathoridath, a Facebook page that documents these tales in an oral form. Five years down the line, Oridathoridath (which literally translates to 'Once upon a time' ) has its own YouTube channel and an android app. Until now, Varma and his team have documented over 2,000 stories, that are free to use.
The stories are uploaded in a video format. However, none of these videos have visuals to support the story. Varma tells us that this was a conscious decision. "We want the children (or adults) to listen to these stories and use their imagination to visualise them. For instance, if you're listening to the story of Raavan, there are many ways in which one can picturise him," he says. He also says that he wants the parents or grandparents to access these resources, rather than the children themselves. "Children are already a lot dependent on technology these days. We want the parents to listen to these stories and narrate them to their children. Any story can be narrated in a lot of different ways," he says.
For the past five years, Oritathoritath has always had a story go up on its Facebook page every day. "There was never a shortage of stories. We also monitor content to avoid repetition," says Varma. "At the same time, we never record any of the stories in a studio set up. They are recorded using technology that is easily available so that we get the final recording soon," he adds.
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