KOCHI: Among the many famous legends of Perumthachan in 'Aithihyamala', there is a particular one about a temple pond. The fable has it that the people of Uliyannoor once commissioned the master carpenter to build a ceremonial tank, regarding the shape of which there was discord. While a few wanted it to be rectangular, others sought a circular pond and the remaining prefered an octagonal one.
Conjuror of impressive designs that he is, Perumthachan created a pond which would assume different shapes, depending on the vantage points of the onlooker. This popular fable intrigued Vimal Krishnan, a PhD student at the Department of Design at IIT Hyderabad, that he has come up with a Virtual Reality experience on the same, titled 'Perumthachante Paankulam'.
The five-minute film gives the viewer an embodied experience of the pond, and thereby giving the first-hand feel of its changing shapes. The film was shown to the students of Govt LP School, Uliyannoor, last week. Vimal also received a grant from the India Foundation for the Arts, under the Arts Practice Programme, for the project.
"Since Uliyannoor is my neighbourhood, I have always been intrigued by the fable. Naturally, it turned out to be my project. The decision to make a VR experience was inspired by the recent trend wherein a lot of historical projects are done on it," says Vimal.
A lot of research went into the work. Vimal visited over 40 ponds all over Palakkad and Thrissur to visually document it. "For the experience, we needed to document the ambience, everything from laterite to the texture, structure and vegetation of the place. It consumed a lot of time and resources," says Vimal.
While the Malayalam version 'Perumthachante Paankulam' has a story-telling format and follows a teacher who narrates the tale to his students, the English version, 'Perumthachan's Pond', follows a documentary style.
"During my research, I stumbled on an account by historian Dr Rajan Chungath. It had mentioned an old letter written in the 19th century by Scott Brothers Locomotive to the then British Resident on how a pond at Ulliyannor had to be levelled if a track had to be laid in the area. Such documents corroborate the presence of a pond in the area. I have mentioned the details in the English version," says Vimal.
Sanath PC, the founder of the Hyderabad-based Firefly Creative Studio, helped Vimal with conceptualisation and design while the studio executed the project. The sound department was handled by Vishnu P C and Arun S Mani of the Chennai-based Oli Sound Labs.