Indian culture

Creative sisters celebrate Indian culture in nostalgic animated videos


A young woman in a sari wearing a long braid is sitting in a beautiful garden with birds chirping and flying around her. She is reading a book and stroking a cat on her lap. A teapot awaits him on a table like Jagjit Singh’s Tumko Dekha Toh Yeh Khayaal Aaya plays in the background.

You may find yourself sighing and wishing the girl was you. A hand appears, pours her tea and puts a flower in her hair. It’s animation that sets the mood and atmosphere so good that you want it to be real! We have to thank the Bohra sisters for this.

Sakina and Zainab Bohra have become stop-motion animation sensations on Instagram with their posts, gathering more than 60,000 subscribers. The sisters are both engineers who grew up in Kuwait. Sakina recently moved from San Francisco to London and Zainab lives in Kuwait. They both gave up their jobs at different times to raise their children and to do something they love – art.

“We started our Instagram page in August 2015. I loved drawing and my sister Zainab loved stop motion animation. [and still working in a digital marketing role then]. We wanted to do something together, where we could both put our skills to good use. Our idea was to create videos to showcase our childhood memories, something we could later review and smile on. And also to share the little stories of our lives with the world, ”says Sakina.

Their strength lies in a simple and beautiful storytelling. As Sakina points out, their connection with their audience goes through emotion and an experience of the past. The scenes and stories are quintessentially Indian, colorful and instantly grab your attention.

Our idea was to create videos to showcase our childhood memories, something that we could later review and smile on.

Sakina bohra

The duo use old-fashioned stop motion animation to tell ordinary personal stories. The whole concept is rooted in popular Indian culture. The art is teeming with surround sounds – gurgling streams and babies, crackling fire, mooing cows, old man’s snoring, running sewing machine. All in all, these animations give a great feeling of space, a comforting banality and a sweet nostalgia.

Every post is almost always tuned to old Bollywood music. A life-size human hand appears in each animation, performing some of the “action” of the scene, whether it’s turning on lights, opening doors, sweeping roads, pouring tea. , grind masala or open a store. When the sisters started, Sakina was drawing and Zainab was animating, but now they have a team of freelancers working with them, who rely on their basic ideas, drawings and animations.

“Our subjects are based on real life experiences, be it our childhood memories or anything we encounter in our day to day life. Many of them represent the time we spent with our families and the local community while growing up. You can see our interactions with our local vendors and traders, or help people in any way you can. We always love to create videos on social posts. And we keep having new experiences every day, so whatever inspires us we use in our videos, ”says Zainab.

The sisters were born in India and their family moved to Kuwait when they were very young. “Kuwait has a strong Indian presence, so we grew up around Indian culture and traditions. As is the case with people who move abroad, we have grown closer and we are more committed to the culture. We returned to India around the 1990 Gulf War, when we spent six years of our beautiful childhood with our adorable grandparents in Udaipur before returning to Kuwait. Then later we returned to India to continue our undergraduate studies. We both hold an engineering degree, ”explains Sakina, recalling their background and their influences through time and place.

Looking back, they say the time spent with their grandparents was very precious. “Our nani [maternal grandmother] was the most affectionate. Going to nani’s house was our most favorite part of the day. She would save malai [milk cream] for us every day, and do aloo wadas [fried potato snacks] every Sunday – pure and selfless love and care.

“We wanted to share these memories through our videos with the world. Our Hindi movie songs, especially the classics of the time, were everything we grew up listening to with our parents, on our tape recorders, driving or driving. on weekends doing housework – those were our real-life experiences. Something we relate to on a personal level, ”says Sakina.

The duo are posting new content on Instagram at most Indian festivals. Other themes that you can expect to see include food and drink, romance, and gratitude. They have also supported several charitable causes – encouraging the education of young girls and supporting local small businesses.

Sakina believes their Instagram page is primarily for entertainment, but that she struck a chord with people. When they created a special animation urging people not to abuse animals, many non-profit organizations across India reached out to ask if they could use the animation on their websites. “It’s visual and it’s simple and, I think, appeals to the masses,” Sakina says.

This success has led brands and companies to solicit them for commercial projects. The most common request is for animated wedding or party invitations; other projects involve start-ups, product animation and the Indian Premier League Kolkata Knight Riders cricket team. The Bohra sisters also worked with Disney + Hotstar for the TV series, The empire, and customers contacted from USA, UK, Australia, Singapore and India.

“If we have the chance, we would love to make a movie. It is certainly a long road, but why not? Zainab said.

When asked what the future holds for them, the sisters hope to continue making what they call “micro-films”. They also want to delve into the thriving world of non-fungible tokens. And if they do, it will certainly be the perfect example of “the old world meets the new world”.

Update: November 20, 2021, 4:30 a.m.