Soumik Datta's animated musical film Songs of the Earth is all about climate change

Soumik Datta's animated musical film Songs of the Earth is all about climate and saving the planet

Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  03rd December 2021 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  03rd December 2021 12:00 AM
Soumik Datta

Soumik Datta

Before the pandemic, multi-disciplinary artiste Soumik Datta released Jangal, an album in response to deforestation. That led him to Earth Day Network - a global organisation that raises awareness about climate change. They made Datta an ambassador and he began a deeper journey into environmental campaigns.

Sometime during the lockdown, Datta wrote a short story about Asha, a young climate refugee from Bengal who searches for her father across burning forests and rising oceans. In February this year, he won a British Council Climate Change creative commission to develop Songs of the Earth, a film and music project in partnership with Earth Day Network and both the film and the album released on November 2. “Asha has lived with me for many months now. It feels wonderful to share her story with the world,” tells Datta. 

A scene from Songs of the Earth

The opening montage and music is so evocative yet enjoyable… tell us how you conceived and worked on the compositions?

Each song in the film (and the album) relates to a specific environmental issue. The lyrics of Oceans Rising talk about the increased surface temperature of the earth while Fields of Hope addresses deforestation and animal endangerment and Chemical Design comments on the carbon footprint of the fashion industry. I wanted to write the songs in a way that wouldn’t detract from their musicality but would hold layers of meaning for different kinds of listeners. 

How did you conceive the animated character Asha, a climate refugee?

Asha means ‘hope’ in Hindi and Bengali and hope is indeed the key here. We have to be motivated not by fear of climate change but by the hope of a better future. Music and stories have the ability to evoke this feeling, despite the overwhelming and depressing statistics surrounding the climate crisis.

Any plans to take the film to festivals?

I want this film to be shown in schools and colleges around the world, for young people to engage in the issues it raises, for them to feel the plight of someone like Asha - a climate refugee and reflect on how natural disasters are connected to our own behaviour and consumption patterns. Rather than chasing the glitz and glamour of the film circuit tour - this felt like the real purpose of making the film - to try and shift public opinion, converting climate indifference to conscious action.

Soumik Datta
Soumik Datta

Are you planning some more films?

My mother is a film director and so is my brother. So, I’m not trying to become another one in the family! But as a creative person, I’m interested in all kinds of media: music, spoken word, film, dance, theatre, graphics, animation, VR – and I love collaborating with specialists who can bring ideas to life through these channels. 

Your upcoming music projects?

Currently, I’m working on a new show that will address immigration, mental health issues and the refugee crisis. It’s an ambitious work with a huge team that will release at London’s premier venue, Southbank Centre, as well as stream globally.

Songs of the Earth streaming on YouTube