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Yerka Maru - Final Year Project

Yerka Maru - Final Year Project

Samyuktha Lakshmivaragan
by SamLaks on 25 Sep 2023

Yerka Maru in Tamil translates to "Refuse to accept" The project is based on a world blending Bommalattam(Tamil String Puppetry, and Tamil&Telugu shadow puppetry) and 1960s-1980s Kollywood(Tamil cinema)

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The narrative of the project is based on the familiar trope of Villainization of Ambitious Female Characters in the Tamil narrative. The trope denotes that Passive and silent women are good women, while “Ambitious” and “Vocal women” are “Bad women”. The narrative punishes them by villainizing their characters.

Typecasted as a Vamp item dancer at every role opportunity, a tired and burnout Bommlattam puppet "Mohini" is backstage after completing a performance. Her stress immediately vanished when the main stage came to life again. The bommalattam show resumes. Mohini gravitates towards the screen, openly displaying her love for the art form. However, the moment she shows her ambitions, her shadow transforms into a monstrous form. Mohini realizes that she has been villainized and stands up to her own shadow. Thus, refusing to accept the villainization label.

This project was an individual project and I attempted to cover all elements of the animation pipeline. The challenging parts were the Modelling and texturing pipeline as this was my very first modelling and texturing attempt. 

Final Project

Breakdown Reel

Character Design Iterations- Mohini

Mohini Character Design References

I researched and analysed the 1960s-1980s Item dancers in Kollywood. I studied the fashions  and makeup of many actresses and dancers such as Silk Smitha(Vadlapati Vijayalakshmi) Jayamalini, Jyothi Lakshmi, Disco Shanti(Santha Kumari) 

Environment Design Iteration

Environment Design References

The traditional Bommalattam stage is just a makeshift with wooden poles that are used to stretch the screen. This screen is usually black as this screen will hide the puppeteer. But in my design, I decided to take inspiration from the Tholu Bommalattam set in white colour. I decided to use a generic South Indian temple-stage structure called a “Mandapam” instead of the makeshift small Bommalattam.  I also wanted to utilize the element of the carpet "Jamakallam" observed in every bommalattam show, in my design. 

A Rejected Idea- Prop designs

I also modelled environment props. There were some tables and chairs and a disco dancing floor platform. These props were based on the 1960s and 1980s item song shoot set. Most of the songs happened in a nightclub, with a disco dance floor platform in the centre and some tables and chairs surrounding it. The dancers, including the item dancer, take centre stage while the audience are sitting around and watching the spectacle. My idea was to arrange these chairs and tables backstage to show that these props were discarded and Mohini also backstage. My thought process was to show that Mohini was also being considered as a prop after her performance was over. Ultimately this idea was rejected as I got feedback that the props were distracting from the important elements. 

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