Ashta

Ashta is the story of a little octopus who gets lost in a far away country after narrowly escaping a shark attack only to find new friends and ultimately herself at the end of a magical journey that takes her all across India.

Draft character design of Ashta, a little octopus from Sumatra, who gets lost in India.

It’s an exciting and exotic story world comprised of a game, a TV show and a feature film. The journey begins with a game in which the players explore the basics of yoga through an animated story about a little octopus called Ashta.

Ashta lives on a little island together with her 53 siblings, her mum, her dad and her grandmother. They live a very happy life in a beautiful bay on a little island on the northern tip of Sumatra until one day, the family is attacked by a group of sharks. Most of the family manage to hide under rocks and in crevices further in the bay. In the turmoil, Ashta swims in the wrong direction and ends up in the open ocean where she is immediately pursued by two of the sharks. 

Hunted by the sharks she swims further into the open sea. However, the sharks are unusually persistent and they follow her for many days until she finally arrives at a strange coast near the mouth of a river. There, she finds a resting place, wrapping herself around the roots of a coral tree. Having lost her way and overwhelmed by sadness she starts to cry.

Pablo, a young bull who recently arrived with his family from Mexico, hears her sobbing and tries to cheer her up with a song. All the other cows that are nearby join in and before long, it turns into a full-blown Bollywood song and dance performance.

Pablo, a young bull from Mexico who recently moved to India with his family because they had heard that people there a nice to cows.

Ashta makes friends with the bull Pablo, who promises to introduce her to someone who can help her get home. However, before they can set off, they need to figure out how Ashta can travel over land. After all, she can only survive for a short time outside the water. Pablo notices a little amulet around Ashta’s neck and reckognises it as the home of a Genie. Later in the story, we learn that the amulet is the reason why the sharks had been so persistent in following Ashta.

Pablo and his friends performing a Bollywood song and dance routine for Ashta.

Pablo knows about Genies because his family also have one. The story of the genies starts many hundreds of years in the past, at a time when humans lived in harmony with nature and each other. Nobody remembers exactly how and when the first Genie appeared but they were friendly and offered to fulfil endless wishes for people. In fact, the genies loved to work and constantly demanded to fulfil increasingly more frivolous and extravagant wishes. As a result, the world quickly became cluttered with things that nobody really needed and some, among them Ashta and Pablo’s families, longed to again live simpler lives. So they wished to be transformed into animal form and stored the genies in objects like laps and amulets to be awoken at a time, when people had learned to control their desires and thus control the genies.

In spite of the danger, Pablo and Ashta decide to awaken Lakshmi, the genie in Ashta’s amulet, and persuade her to transform them into human form. Lakshmi is not pleased to be thrust back into the human world but agrees to help. Ashta and Pablo are quickly turned into humans and so begins an epic,  funny and adventurous journey. 

A disgruntled Lakshmi reluctantly agrees to help Ashta and Pablo.

On their travels, Ashta, Pablo and Lakshmi meet many characters from all around the world such as a group of French frogs  who have a hip hop band and rap about how tough life is for a frog in France. They tell the story of their long, arduous escape from a gourmet restaurant, travelling all across the city of Paris to finally make it onto a plane bound for Bangalore, where they could be free to follow their Hip Hop passion.

First character design sketches for Pablo in human form.

They also meet a group of crocodiles who run a hairdressing salon by the river. They have a barber shop quartet and love to sing for their customers. In each of the thirteen chapters, we are introduced to new characters, each of which has their own backstory. These stories are told as songs making Ashta a musical experience that crosses genres from Country and Western to French Hip Hop. Each character also knows a little bit of Yoga, a knowledge they share with the travellers. Thus, Ashta, Pablo and Lakshmi’s learn about different cultures through music as they discover the world of yoga.

Draft character designs for Ashta in human form.