It all started when Shameer happened to listen to an oft-used Malayalam proverb — Kakka Kulichal Kokkakumo?’ (Can a bath turn a crow into a stork?). Realising that the proverb was quite racist in its literal meaning, Shameer decided to create a short out of it and give the crow a ‘voice’.
“Man has created all these idioms and proverbs based on animals and I kept wondering what the animals would have to say about their species being dragged into these negative images. So there was the crow, and then I remembered the caged parrot that is forced to pick tarot cards,” says 31-year-old Shameer, who hails from Kulamuttom near Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram.
Jassim Hashim (left) acts as a peacock and Shameer Khan as a crow
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
Shameer and his cousin Jassim Hashim enacted an imaginary conversation between the birds, where the topics delved into racism and cruelty perpetrated by humans. But it was all dramatised with oodles of humour. The one-minute short was released on their Instagram handle, @the_chooral. Within three days, the short garnered over five lakh views.
“Once we understood that people could connect to the short, we decided to focus on animals,” says 29-year-old Jassim, a resident of Varkala. Soon other animals were roped in and the caustic, funny shorts revolving around the tortoise, lizard, dragonfly, cow and so on were created.
In good humour
They take up popular misconceptions, beliefs, and proverbs surrounding animals and weave a humorous narrative in one-minute shorts. “The narratives weren’t meant to revolve around animals. When we started ‘Chooral’, we had created a few characters and the stories revolved around them. But the response to the ones we did on animals was stupendous. We have begun to observe animals a lot now,” chuckles Jassim.
Jassim Hashim (left) dressed up as a lion and Shameer Khan (R) as a honey bee
| Photo Credit: Special arranagement
The conversation between the crow and the parrot is just one among the many such captivating but thought-provoking scenarios conceptualised by the cousins. Then there is the cow wondering why human beings use its milk to produce milk powder, only to turn it back into milk. ” They take a close look at the distinctive features of animals and create amusing narratives based on it.
“We wonder what an animal would have to tell us if it could converse with us. And that’s how the narratives are created,” adds Shameer, who does the script and editing. They film each other for the series.
The Instagram handle, started in October 2021, now has 210K followers. The shorts are, at times, political. Using minimalistic props, the cousins enact animals discussing body shaming, cruelty towards animals and moral policing. “It is not a conscious effort. For instance, when we bring in an elephant, how can we not address the exploitation of the animal during festivals and processions?” asks Shameer.
“If we can make the world a better place with our one-minute video, then our purpose is served,” avers Shameer.