When she returned to India from Muscat at the age of 16, Ketki Jadhav couldn’t muster the courage to navigate a scooter through the uncontrollable traffic jams of Pune like the rest of her college friends. Six years later, as an animation student at the National Institute of Design, the concern lingered on at the back of her head. This prompted her to make a short animation film, as part of her graduation project, that not only throws light upon the real problem but also promotes an impactful solution.

In India, the general image of public transport is not particularly encouraging. Based on frustrating past experiences, citizens are hesitant to give new public transport systems a chance which in turn discourages the government from investing in further improvements, triggering a vicious cycle of apathy. This situation fuels the ever-increasing demand for private vehicle ownership which further immobilises the role of the public and government in bringing about a change in perception.

“I wrote to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), a New York-based NGO that has been working to bring about a change in the field of public transportation in India for many years now. They liked the idea and together we decided to make a film.” says Ketki, who was happy to secure the organisation’s sponsorship and research muscle.

In addressing a situation like this with many interlinked issues having a rather serious impact, the medium of animation puts across the story in an enjoyable, crisp and refreshing manner. Messages like these run the risk of sounding boring or preachy but the film does well to steer clear of these associations. The thoughtful portrayal of characters and their perspectives reflect the existing situation with a hint of humour, thus making the message memorable. By highlighting the success story of the BRTS service in Ahmedabad, the film points to good public transport systems as an effective solution to a chain of problems beginning from traffic jams to air and noise pollution to road expansion to even unemployment.
It is being screened at a number of international conferences that ITDP conducts with local government officials, city planners, architects and concerned citizens. In addition, the organisation’s YouTube channel offers a great platform to freely reach out to people of all age groups online, with the video garnering over 2,500 views to date. A detailed documentation of the project can be viewed below.