Animated videos use humour to aid Mumbai Police helpline for women

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Eeksaurus, a Mumbai based animation studio, have launched three awesome short videos to spread awareness about Mumbai Police Helpline 103 to report violence against women

By Team FI
A woman walking down an alley gets accosted by man. Unperturbed she uses her secret weapon, her jacket sprouts porcupine like thorns whereupon she proceeds to hug her assailant. A message splashes across the scene advertising the product as Porcupine Jacket which alas will only be in the market twenty years hence. So till then, Mumbai women are reminded to call Mumbai Police helpline number, created especially to be used in cases of violence against women – 103.

This animated video was the brainchild of Suresh Eriyat, the Director of Eeksaurus – a Mumbai based company that makes advertising film using animation. So far four videos have been made out of which 3 which were launched online in April 2015 have been endorsed by the Mumbai Police- being ‘Porcupine Jacket’, “Bagzilla’ and “Inter-galactic Pest Control”.

Nilima Eriyat, Executive producer of Studio Eeksaurus, spoke to FeministsIndia on the subject

How was the idea conceived?
The idea came in the wake so many gruesome rape cases in the country and out of an intention to spread awareness about the Police helpline which not many women are aware of. As a part of our services to the community, Eeksaurus sets aside time and budget every year for such projects where we feel that contributing with what we are good at- films and communication is better than monetary grants where we don’t know where the money ends up going.

What kind of research did you do to arrive at the concept?
When we came to know about the Police helpline number 103, and the Mumbai police told us they can reach any crime scene within few minutes of the victim making a call to them, we asked a lot of people if they were aware of such a helpline number and to our surprise, while everyone knew 100 was the police number, no one knew of 103 as the women’s helpline aided by women beat officers. This was startling and we felt a huge need for the citizens to have useful information. That was the starting point for Suresh to come up with this thought of making a series of films in a comic, tongue in the cheek approach so that women felt empowered by the information of having a helpline number they could rely on.

Why did you think of using humour to send the message?
We have seen that almost all communication that is created around women’s safety issues are using live action, showing real people and made very morbid, which actually sets in more fear than empowers women to deal with the issue. Therefore, Suresh felt that using the medium of animation, and making it humorous will make the communication memorable- where the whole point is for women to remember the police helpline number and be assured that help is a few minutes away. In our interaction with the Mumbai police, we have learnt that the police can land up anywhere in Mumbai within a few minutes of the victim making a call to them. So when we have such an efficient system and the police who vouch for it, we felt that this helpline number must be known to as many people, especially women.

What was the reaction from the police to the concept which is different from normal awareness videos?
To our pleasant surprise, the Mumbai Police applauded the films and Suresh’s effort and initiative as a citizen for doing his bit for the society and gave us permission to endorse the film using the Mumbai Police logo and highlighting the helpline number. We are proud and assured to know that our Police force is a bunch of open minded, progressive people who are constantly improvising and ideating on ways to make our city a safe place.

Are these videos only limited to online media or is it being planned to be shown on television or cinema halls?
There is talk of them going on cinema screens and we have approached the metros and buses to play them in a loop for maximum reach to the masses of the helpline number. However, there is a fee we are being asked to pay to play the films on Public transport which we are not willing to do, considering we have pro-actively created them for the benefit of the society and we think that such content should be played on as many screens across the city as it in the interest of the public.

Have you received any concrete reactions to the ad as in quantitive numbers of views or qualitative comments?
The Mumbai Police, commissioner Rakesh Maria and Jt. commissioners Dhananjay Kamlakar and Atulchandra Kulkarni (crime) felicitated Suresh in a special ceremony in Mumbai in April 2015, presided by the chief minister of Maharastra, Devendara Fadnavis, which in itself was acknowledgment of good content where the police further chose to endorse it. We have the films on YouTube and our FB page- Eeksaurus, where we have an outreach but not in the numbers we would like for the awareness of the helpline number. A lot of press coverage has been made, but the real success lies in as many people watching the films and remembering the helpline number 103.

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